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Character Counts in the Laguna Beach Unified School District

All four schools have taken part in projects this month that are designed to get students to make positive choices.

News release from the Laguna Beach Unified School District:

An integral component of student instruction at the Laguna Beach Unified School District is character education. Programs such the District’s Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS) are in place at all schools and help students learn to make positive choices. Superintendent Sherine Smith remarks, “In LBUSD, we work hard to shape the character and fortitude of young people. Teaching children to be thoughtful and kind is one way to do this. Another way is to teach students to stand up for themselves and others against bullying. It boils down to a simple and age-old principle: treat others as you want to be treated.”

The LBUSD Board of Education approved Resolution 12-21 endorsing October as National Bullying Prevention Month. On October 10, staff and students district-wide wore orange as a unified message against bullying.

In addition to ongoing character education programs, El Morro Elementary School and Top of the World Elementary School hosted character-building programs in October that encouraged students to be kind and exhibit good character. Lunchtime activities featured guest speakers who reinforced ways kindness and respect can be extended to individuals, the environment and the world. Top of the World Elementary School students signed the Rachel’s Challenge banner, comprised of student pledges to be kind to all students at their school. El Morro Elementary School alum and professional surfer James Pribram spoke to El Morro Elementary School students about the importance of respect for self and the earth. Mr. Pribram is a cofounder of Eco Warrior, which is a grass roots organization committed to protecting beaches, sea life, and oceans around the world.

At Thurston Middle School, some of the community service programs that highlight the importance of good character are coordinated by the Leadership students and PALs. They include the Spark of Love Toy Drive, food drive and the “What if” Board. United in Kindness was a weeklong event this October. Two weeks of New Student Luncheons were held at the end of September and the beginning of October. Assistant Principal Mike Modeer gave an interactive presentation, More Than a Bystander, to all students in the PE classes.

At Laguna Beach High School, Peer Leadership sponsored a Kindness Campaign. Students wrote, directed and produced two video clips that supported “standup” behaviors when bullying is observed. Kindness cards were distributed to all students, encouraging them to send a positive note or apology to their peers. The Peer Leadership students collected 650 cards, which will be given to the students. Peer Leadership students also sponsored the New Student Luncheon, where all students who are new to the District were introduced and paired up with peers at a pizza party. On Mix It Up At Lunch day, students and staff were invited to wear mismatched clothes and circulate outside their normal routine at lunch as they met new people and introduced themselves to different groups.

LBHS Special Education teacher and Peer Leadership teacher Melinda Hawkins remarks, “Although every event has not impacted every student, I have been amazed by the students I have seen go out of their way to reach out to each other and lend support. We have many heroes among us that go unnoticed unless you are really watching for their acts of genuine kindness. LBHS is a great place to be! I encourage all my students to go out of their comfort zones and connect to those around us who might be feeling lost.”

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