Lakewood Elementary gets in the spirit of Dr. King

Nelson Sparrow, member of the 5,000 Role Models Program.

BY FRANK DROUZAS, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — Lakewood Elementary School will launch its MLK Day of Service a week early by beginning its Bullying Awareness Week starting Jan. 9. The goal is to teach the students, parents, staff and community members about bullying and ways to reduce bullying incidents.

Teachers will emphasize the importance of recognizing and understanding that bullying negatively affects a diverse group of people regardless of race, gender or age. The ultimate aim is to create a safe school environment that includes parental involvement.

Cedric Ferrell, a paraprofessional at Lakewood, explained that to get in the spirit of the upcoming holiday, on Jan. 9 parents, students and staff members will participate in the “Stop Bullying March to School” by marching from a nearby park to the school in what Ferrell calls a “mini MLK march, a bullying awareness march,” to kick things off.

The main event will be held Tuesday, Jan. 10 and will feature the “Stop Bullying Spoken Word Show, which will include a theater group performance by students. Local celebrity Corey Thornton will host the spoken word show and give a motivational message. The day’s events will also include an educational 45-minte performance titled “Bullyproof, the Musical.”

Experts and guest speakers will discuss bullying of all sorts, including cyber bullying, Ferrell said, and refreshments such as pizza, popcorn and cotton candy will be served.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day at 8:30 a.m., volunteers will collect canned goods and pass out bullying awareness brochures at nearby Munch’s Sundries & Restaurant from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Members of the Girlfriends of Pinellas Program and The 5,000 Role Models Program will count and box donated food items, which will then be given to charity.

“We reached out to the St. Petersburg Free Clinic to coordinate the canned food drive,” Ferrell explained.

Lakewood has also obtained books on the topic of bullying from which the teachers will be able to read aloud.

“At Lakewood we have morning meetings where for about 15 minutes the teacher talks about different topics,” Ferrell said, who has been at the school for just over two years. “So for that week we’re going to talk about bullying.”

He added that bullying is a topic that every school in America is dealing with, and Lakewood is one school that is being proactive in addressing the issue.

To reach Frank Drouzas, email fdrouzas@theweeklychallenger.com

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