ATLANTIC CITY — Colorful buckets line the walls of the Texas Avenue School and sit stacked in a display case near the entrance.
Filling those buckets with good deeds and kind messages is this year’s theme at the school, where guidance counselor Richard Prince believes creating a positive culture at the school is the best first step in controlling bullying.
“It’s all about the school climate,” Prince said as he arranged a “flash mob” to sing the new bucket song during lunch Friday. “That’s what Superintendent Donna Haye and the principals are all stressing. It’s about being kind rather than being mean.”
This week has been Respect Week in New Jersey schools, part of the new anti-bullying effort that works to stress positive behavior rather than just punishing bullying.
Last year, the school’s theme was “buddies not bullies,” and Prince said he did see a change in how students behaved toward each other.
“This is not to say that we can stop everything that goes on,” Prince said. “But it’s a way to swing the bystanders into taking a stand and not tolerating the bad behavior.”
The project is based on the book “How Full Is Your Bucket?” by Tom Roth and Donald Clifton. Prince said teacher Nancylee Bostic brought the book to school, and last year teacher Lauren Higgins tried a project in her class. This year the entire school will become “Home of the Bucket Fillers.”
On Friday the school held “Mix It Up Day” during lunch, where students were seated with others they might not know so they could learn more about their classmates. Students will also begin filling each other’s buckets with messages, and prizes will be awarded monthly for students who show “bucket filling” behavior.
Fifth-grader Vu Thach, 10, explained that the buckets would recognize when students did nice things, “like when you help someone, or telling someone to stop bullying,” he said.
Laila Vila, 11, said they would not fill their own buckets, but would put messages in other students’ buckets if they did something nice. “If someone helps you, then you put a note in their bucket,” she said. “When it’s full, it means you are being very nice.”
There is a children’s book about how everyone has an imaginary bucket, that is full when people are nice to them, but can also be “dipped” or emptied if people say mean things or hurt them. Prince said they want students to realize that their actions have an impact on others, both good and bad, and that they should think before they act.
Posted around the school is the Texas Avenue School Bucket Filler’s Pledge, which is recited as part of morning announcements: “I promise to do my best every day to be a bucket filler, not to dip, and to use my lid (head) for myself and others at home, at school, and everywhere I go.”
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