DuBOIS — A nationally recognized social skills educator, Brooks Gibbs, will speak about bullying to students next week at both the middle and high schools in the DuBois Area School District.

Gibbs will be the first of two speakers coming to the district to teach students to be emotionally resilient to negative words or actions that are aimed at hurting their feelings, said high school Principal Brian Weible.

Gibbs’ presentation is free to the district thanks to Jacob and Kari d’Argy with the McKinney d’Argy Funeral Home and Neil and Sarah Sorek with Matson Insurance, both in Brookville.

“The businesses wanted to do something to help the students and they recognized that Brooks Gibbs is able to come and do four shows,” Weible said. “He’s coming to Brookville in the morning and to DuBois in the afternoon. I think they recognized that it would have an impact here, too.”

Weible said both he and middle school Principal Darren Hack thought it would impact the most students if Gibbs’ presentations were split between the middle and high school students.

His presentation will be heard by sixth- and seventh-graders at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20, at the middle school school and to ninth- and 10th-graders at 1:45 p.m. that same day.

“With programs like this, what it does for us is, a lot of our issues with regard to fixing bullying are reactive,” Hack said. “We have a situation and we have to react. With programs like this, it allows us to be pro-active. And provide the kids education and resources.”

“And that’s the type of thing that we would do on a regular basis and our idea is to try to provide all the support that we can get,” Weible said.

On Tuesday at the high school, guidance counselors met with students who voluntarily wanted to talk about bullying or bullying issues.

“We call it a round-table discussion. We’re tying to use that as a springboard for making these more impactful,” Weible said. “The guidance counselors heard from the students about the issues that they’re seeing or dealing with the most in regards to bullying and we’re going to use that as a springboard for open discussions and helping that drive.”

At the middle school, a number of other activities have been undertaken to prevent bullying, Hack said. Some of them include: Bullying Bricks for each student, students wrote on an orange brick how they prevent bullying and all bricks were connected to Build a Wall Against Bullying; and a cyber bullying assembly presented by the Attorney General’s office for sixth-graders; dress up days to promote awareness; and Unity Day.

In March, students will hear from Thom Thelen, the founder of the Victimproof Bullying Prevention Program, who the district was able to get with federal grant money. His message helps schools create a positive culture and shows students how to “Be The Change.”

Weible said he wants people to know that the district is being proactive when it comes to bullying.

“We care about kids and we want to stop bullying,” Weible said. “We are reaching out to find ways to bring in nationally recognized speakers to address and give kids tools. This empowers the kid not to be a victim but to have tools to be able to try to to deal with it.”

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