by Lisa Fontana

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February 14, 2012
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Keeping kids safe key to Alpine schools' mission

In Alpine County our mission is to provide a safe and engaging learning environment where student success is measured by high achievement and positive self-image.

With the help of our community partners, the Alpine County Choose Civility Campaign is helping us meet that goal.

This special program focusing on building leadership and life skills was first introduced in our kindergarten through eighth grade classrooms last year. In November we expanded the reach by making it part of our after school program.

California's voters have helped make this possible. In 2002 we approved Proposition 49, the After School Education and Safety Program Act. Starting in 2006, this legislation earmarks annual funds specifically for before and after school programs that are available to all of our students.

The after school civility campaign reinforces skills learned during the school day within three leadership programs: kindergartners through second graders are in Al's Pals Little Hawks where they learn social skills; the Hawk Kindness Kouncil is made up of third and fourth graders who also helped develop this grassroots program that focuses on being helpful and kind; and fifth through eighth graders in the Hawk Safe School Ambassadors work on putting what they have learned into action and mentoring the younger students.

Through enrichment programs focusing on reducing the incidents of peer mistreatment, students practice brain storming to solve problems, learn how to identify bullying, participate in conflict resolution, and train to be peer mediators. Role-playing is an important part of the program in each of the three groups. By practicing what to say and do, actions become spontaneous when challenging situations arise.

These life skills are turning our students into mentors, role models and leaders eager to share their knowledge with others. Al's Pals Little Hawks will soon start working on a book, some writing and others drawing illustrations, about bullying and kindness. The Hawk Kindness Kouncil will soon be putting together a bike-a-thon, and Hawk Safe School Ambassadors are organizing a talent show where some of them will write and perform rap songs to get out their anti-bullying message.

In Alpine County our after school program keeps kids safe while strengthening their connection to learning, and this year with the addition of the Choose Civility Campaign it is also teaching them valuable social and leadership skills they will use the rest of their lives.

Lisa Fontana is Alpine County Superintendent of Schools

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The Record Courier Updated Feb 14, 2012 05:23PM Published Feb 14, 2012 05:21PM Copyright 2012 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.