Bus stop safety, anti-bullying video highlights at community-school council meeting
January 16, 2013
WIESBADEN, Germany - Safety at a Newman Village school bus stop, a student-produced anti-bullying video and the Student-2-Student program were topics at the Installation Advisory Committee meeting Jan. 13 at Wiesbaden High School.
The IAC meetings and individual School Advisory Council or SAC meetings provide school administrators, partnership units, parents and community leaders with an opportunity to share issues of concern. SAC and IAC meetings are held quarterly with the IAC hosted by a different school each meeting.
The Jan. 13 IAC meeting led off with a premiere showing of a video featuring students, Wiesbaden High School Principal Sharon O'Donnell and U.S. Army Garrison leaders, Col. David Carstens and Command Sgt. Maj. Sa'eed Mustafa addressing the topic of bullying.
"This is part of the Leonardo Project," said Peter Witmer, USAG Wiesbaden's school liaison officer, explaining that students are participating in the competition between Wiesbaden-area German and American schools. Explaining that Wiesbaden High School has four projects among the some 125 Leonardo efforts, the local Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe high school is the sole American school taking part.
The video has been uploaded to the garrison's YouTube channel and can be viewed on both the garrison's home page (www.wiesbaden.army.mil) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/usagwiesbaden).
Witmer asked community members to support the student effort by visiting the Leonardo projects page at www.leonardo2013.de, clicking on "alle Projeckte," scrolling down to the Wiesbaden High School projects and "liking" the Facebook page. Comments and encouragement are also appreciated, he said.
"My hat is off to the students," said Carstens, describing their efforts as extremely professional and topical. While bullying may not be as big an issue in Wiesbaden as in other stateside schools, "the reality is, bullying occurs in all of our schools -- it's just human nature."
Through the video and other anti-bullying efforts, "we are acknowledging it and helping get the word out in a combined fashion that we're just not going to stand for it," he said.
With more and more students gathering at the Newman Village school stop in the mornings, safety is becoming an increasing topic of concern, according to Hainerberg Elementary School administrators.
"We've received quite a few complaints about the pickup area at the bus stop in Newman Village housing," said Hainerberg Elementary School Assistant Principal Jason Sheedy. Explaining that as more people move into the housing area, the population of students meeting the bus in the morning is growing rapidly -- to more than 120 elementary students in early January.
The administrators and commander called for more parental supervision at the stop (only about 30 percent of parents are currently escorting their young children) and area drivers to better observe U.S. Forces traffic regulations which require vehicles to never pass school buses stopped for a pick-up or drop-off while on U.S. military installations (this is not the case off base on German-controlled roads).
School mascots were another topic with Wiesbaden Middle School counselor Dr. Frankie Nielsen sharing news about Bob the Bobcat and Aukamm Elementary School Principal Debbie Parks talking about Duke and Daisy bears. Both school administrators described how the stuffed animals have played an important role in keeping students connected with loved ones serving far from home in such places as Iraq and Afghanistan. While Duke and Bob have deployed to visit Soldiers serving in faraway lands, Parks described Daisy as a "stay behind bear" who serves as a symbol for those waiting for loved ones to return home. "Daisy also helps connect those kids who don't have deployed parents feel like they are a part of it as well," she said.
"It really is an emotional connection," added Witmer.
All of the school leaders present praised local partner units for their ongoing support of the schools. This has ranged from the Defense Commissary Agency's and Corps of Engineers, Europe District's involvement in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math initiative at Wiesbaden Middle School to 66th Military Intelligence Brigade's support of a Hainerberg Elementary School Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. poster event.
Members of the 102nd Signal Battalion have also been active in their partner school -- Aukamm Elementary -- helping sponsor Chess and Deployment Clubs which give pupils an opportunity to "vent and express themselves," according to a Soldier mentor.
"I think it's rewarding for the students, but it's also rewarding for the Soldiers to participate as well," said Sgt. Justin Cooley, 102nd Signal Battalion.
Other issues included discussions about the high and middle school's Student-2-Student programs which recently saw involvement and training for a host of new participants, upcoming school accreditation team visits, Kid's News and homecoming events for returning V Corps Soldiers from deployment in Afghanistan.
The next IAC meeting is scheduled to be held in March.