Anti-bullying event held at Oakman school

By NICOLE SMITH Daily Mountain Eagle OAKMAN — Oakman Middle School held an anti-bullying awareness day in September to help foster a friendlier student culture. On Sept. 29, more than 700 students from kindergarten through eighth-grade participated in an anti-bullying field day, sponsored by SMART Student Health and Wellness Center and funded by CVS Health and Ginn Group Consulting. The students participated in fun events during the anti-bullying day titled “Oakman: End Bullying. It’s Who We Are” and filled out kindness cards that will be read during morning announcements each day for the remainder of the school year. Fifth- through eighth-grade students also participated in a dodgeball tournament, and all students had the opportunity to play in bouncy houses. Jonathan Freeman, the children’s pastor of Calvary Baptist Church of Tuscaloosa, also spoke to students on the anti-bullying day, along with other guest speakers.

“The anti-bullying rally was a huge success. Our students were given a lot to think about, from how to treat others to how they themselves want to be treated,” Oakman Middle Principal Chris Walton said in a press release from Ginn Group Consulting. “Our students were very responsive to the lesson on not bullying others. I hope the positive message they were given will carry over throughout the whole school year.” “We have been wanting to do something like this for years,” Oakman Middle Assistant Principal Nancy Shepherd said. “This kind of thing really gets people's attention, and we just haven't had the resources to make it happen.” Oakman Middle School holds the only SMART Student Health and Wellness Center in the county, which has proven successful in not only maintaining healthy students but encouraging positive mental health practices. Employees with Whatley Health Services in Oakman provide medical care for students who visit the SMART center, located inside the school. Drew Kellough, a licensed clinical social worker at Oakman’s SMART center, said in the press release that he can see the benefits of the SMART model at Oakman, including the recent anti-bullying day. “We are very happy to play a small role in such an important movement. The community has really pulled together and taken a stand against bullying,” Kellough said. Other contributers of the anti-bullying day included Oakman Middle School PTO, Parrish Town Hall, Logojoy Inc., Garfield’s Restaurant, Lavish Coffee Bar, Jasper Bowling Center, Cat’s Den Restaurant, the Oakman High School Cheer Squad and school faculty and staff.