Student bullying, both in-person and of the cyber variety, was the main topic at this month's Bellmore Elementary PTA meeting.
After dispensing with the meeting's opening pleasantries, principals of two of Bellmore's elementary schools spoke to the assembled parents.
Christine Augusto, principal of Shore Road Elementary, assured those in attendance that she takes the well-being of her students seriously.
"One of the things that always comes up in the news a lot is bullying," she said. "I want you to know that we have a lot of programs set in place this year for our fifth and sixth graders regarding that."
Augusto added: "Next week Lyle Cogan, a Bellmore resident, is coming in ... she has a one-woman play called 'Sticks and Stones.' She performs it every year at Hofstra, and she goes around to other school districts as well. It really focuses on various aspects of bullying: face-to-face, internet, that kind of thing, and I think the kids get a lot out of that."
Augusto also reported that Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Long Island is planning on an internet presentation within the next two weeks for Shore Road's fifth and sixth graders on personal safety, both in the neighborhood and online.
"There are a lot of new things that kids get involved in with the new technology that we have," she said. "So, we're looking forward to their presentation."
Sally Curto, principal of Winthrop Elementary, also chimed in on the issue of bullying.
"In our Core Values program, when we covered respect, one of the themes was having good manners," she said. "The kids learn to say 'please' and 'thank you.' That's part of showing respect: having manners."
In the attempt to curb bullying, Curto is taking a proactive approach.
"Next week, we have 'Open the Door' coming in, which is an bullying prevention assembly," she said. "Once the kids have that experience, they may still have some comments, questions, or concerns, so we're having our school social worker visit each class so she can answer any questions that the children still have after the assembly program."
"It's good to let kids know the strategies they can use when it comes to bullying, and that it's okay to tell an adult," Curto added.
Curto also congratulated all involved with Winthrop's recent book fair, which was a great success. For children who could not afford to participate in such events, PTA co-president Barbara Haimson pointed out that her organization were more than happy to assist them.
"Please note that the PTA does give our schools $300 twice a year," she said. "The principals know the children who are more needy, and we give those children a couple of dollars so they can participate in every single event that we offer."
Haimson also announced that they were forming the nominating committee for the 2011-2012 PTA, and that they needed nine volunteers to serve on said committee. Haimson invited interested parties to see her after the meeting was adjourned.
The next Bellmore Elementary PTA meeting will be at 8pm on Jan. 11, 2011, at Shore Road Elementary.