Cool in School: Hudson students tackle bullying with a community book read

7:10 AM, Mar 17, 2011   |    comments
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HUDSON, Wis. -- Students scramble to create their construction-paper scenes on classroom doors as Hudson Schools Superintendent Mary Bowen-Eggebraaten leads a team of three through the halls of Hudson Middle School.

"This is really hard," said Bowen-Eggebraaten, who was helping to judge a door decorating contest as part of a school community read.

"The whole thing was sparked by a book," explained Principal Jim Dalluhn, who is also a judge, not just for the contest, but for the five week long effort to encourage reading, and also tackle a familiar subject for any middle-schooler, bullying.

"The Revealers," a novel by author Doug Wilhelm, delves into bullying, cyberbullying, and the efforts of young teens to stop it.

Eighth-grader Jordan Huber said bullying can be a problem at Hudson Middle School, much as it is at every school.  "They (students) don't really talk to their parents about it," said Huber.  "We need to make kids aware that it's ok to come talk to an adult, a trusted adult because they can help."

Huber is part of a group of students who are presenting a play that depicts a chapter of the book where the line between whose a bully and who isn't becomes harder to see.

Chris Luenburg, also an eighth-grader, wrote much of the script.  "I was hoping they would learn it's not quite as simple as being a bully or not being a bully.. that it can get kind of complicated."

The community read is the brain child of Hudson Middle School Literary Coach Kristin Conrad, who along with ESL teacher Kari Halstead developed the five-week curriculum for the program.

"We wrote a grant for the Hudson Ed Foundation for almost $5000 to purchase 1400 copies of the novel, so that every student and every staff member would get it, and it's theirs to keep," said Conrad.

Students read the book, sometimes as a group, sometimes individually in class two days a week, no matter what class they are in.

"Yeah, even in Phy Ed, science, social studies, math.  Everyone is reading this book.  We kind of said, 'this is really important to our school,'" said Conrad.

Students participate in class discussions, and also an online blog.  It has sparked conversations about the topic of bullying some students say wouldn't have happened without this kind of focus.

Principal Dalluhn thinks it's a project worth trying again.

"Two-thirds of the way through, I think it's been a tremendous success.  I think it's absolutely a formula we want to utilize again."


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