‘Secret locker’ serves dual purpose at WHS

By Jonathan Delozier - jdelozier@aimmediamidwest.com

A new channel to report bullying concerns is also serving as an all-purpose suggestion box at Wellington High School.

Officials designated a “secret locker” in the building following the introduction of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program at the start of this school year.

Students have been instructed to report all non-emergency concerns in the locker, which they do by anonymously sliding a message through the opening on its doors.

“Our request is that any emergency is still brought directly to the office as soon as possible,” said principal Tina Drake. “Items in the locker can range from bullying to just suggestions for around the school, whatever kids want to put in there and remain anonymous for.”

Drake said soccer players have used the locker to ask that next year’s homecoming bonfire not be held on the teams’ practice field.

“It led to us talking to the players and now changes are already going to be made for next year,” said Drake. “It was a good dialogue. Some kids put their names on their note and others choose not to. Either way is OK.”

While the original intent of the secret locker was to report solely on bullying and other negative situations, Drake said seeing students take initiative to broaden its use has been a welcome surprise.

“With Olweus itself, things have been going very well. We’ve managed to have two classroom meetings where kids give feedback at the end,” she said. “The kids really seem to like it and the teachers have noticed kids becoming more familiar with each other.”

The Olweus program was started by Norwegian psychology professor Dan Olweus, who conducted the world’s first long-term study on bullying in the 1980s.

His book, “Bullying at School: What We Know and What We Can Do” has been published in 25 languages.

It claims to reduce instances of reported bullying in schools by half and cut down on other negative behaviors including vandalism, fighting, theft, and truancy.

Drake led a training session on Olweus for all district staff Sept. 10 at the Patricia Lindley Center.

Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.

By Jonathan Delozier