The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

February 9, 2014

Initiatives aimed at student involvement

Kids encouraged to make their mark - positively

By Melissa Klaric
Herald Staff Writer

HERMITAGE — Being aware is the first step in making smart decisions, according to Ray Olson, health instructor at the middle school.

“Don’t be a DUH means be aware of your surroundings,” Olson said.

Eric Trosch, Delahunty principal, and Olson are spearheading a program at the school called CSI – Complete Student Involvement.

“We want to bring involvement and awareness to our school,” Trosch said. “It’s a work in progress.”

The CSI program encompasses a wide range of activities designed to bring students together and work as a team. The activities take place daily or span a length of time, usually a week.

“It’s a program – a whole concept,” Olson said. “The idea is for students to engage.”

A complete student involvement logo plays on the CSI theme. Posters and T-shirts are graced with a large fingerprint, which symbolizes kids leaving their mark on something.

“Not just a thumbprint,” Olson said. “Our students are leaving their mark behind.”

Delahunty houses grades four through eight. Olson has taught health and wellness there for 34 years. He said talking to kids helps them become aware of the issues, which in turn, helps them make informed decisions.

“It’s unique to have the physical education and health education with grades four through seven,” Olson said. “You have to approach the topic in a different way with each grade.”

Olson puts into practice his philosophy every day by working with the kids to treat each other with respect and support their peers by coming together as a team.

“We give them the right vocabulary,” Olson said. “We talk the CSI language to each other.”

Olson spends a lot of class time in the wellness room that is filled with exercise and workout equipment.

He teaches healthy living – both physical and mental well-being.

“The key is for the kids to be in a hospitable place,” Olson said. “I want the kids to know it’s OK for them to talk.”

Delahunty touts a comprehensive anti-bullying program. Olson’s class is one place kids are allowed to share their thoughts and feelings in a hospitable environment.

“Sometimes we learn from the kids,” Olson said. “The more kids that get involved the more we understand each other.”

As part of the program, all grades came together and learned lyrics and choreography to a top 40s tune they were familiar with and created an anti-bullying video.

An event that spans five days with a different activity relating to a drug-free zone is Red Ribbon Week.

Kids write their drug-free pledges on red construction paper and make chain links out of them. Olson’s classroom gets very crowded that week with chain links flowing and weaving around the room. The links are saved and draped in the cafeteria to remind kids of their pledges all year.

“Kids have really bought into this,” Olson said. “It’s been a blast teaching it.”

Seventh-graders Mara Weekly and Sam Scarton were described by Trosch as exemplary students who’ve benefited from CSI program.

“We have assemblies on bullying,” Mara said. “We talk about health issues.”

Mara enjoys two pieces that fit snugly into the CSI program – Hornets Intervention time and the Collins writing program.

Trosch described the philosophy of the Collins writing program as “learning to write and writing to learn.”

Hornets Intervention time is a favorite time of Mara’s because she can get in some extra reading.

For 40 minutes every day, Mara explained, each student reads material of their choice.

Sam said he benefits from the CSI program’s promotion of wellness and a healthy lifestyle. He also enjoyed special events during Red Ribbon week this year.

“We formed teams and had a kick ball tournament.” Sam said. “It’s really fun.”

The overall goal of the program is bring kids together as a cohesive unit, like a family, Trosch said.

“We want to create awareness and invoke a higher level of thought,” Olson said, adding that school officials try to integrate into the classroom “any activity we can sponsor to bring the kids in school together and work as a unit.”