School violence prevention team earns award

Members of the local School Violence Prevention Team got a shock at their meeting last week when they received a provincial award of excellence in crime control.
“The award came as a complete surprise,” committee chair Patti Jo Reid said yesterday. “This summer, they told me about it and wanted to present it at the police services board meeting.”
Instead, Reid asked that Fort Frances OPP S/Sgt. Hugh Dennis present the award at the team’s next meeting, which was held last Wednesday at Fort Frances High School.
The group earned the award in recognition of their work throughout the district to address issues of school violence.
“In the past few years, there has been a great improvement on school violence in Fort Frances,” S/Sgt. High Dennis said before presenting the award.
“I was very excited, and am very appreciative of the people who sit on the committee and the work that they have done,” Reid enthused.
The team has been working to address issues such as violence and bullying in schools to create a safe learning environment. It also was instrumental in bringing an OPP liaison officer into Fort High.
The team also hosts speakers on violence control and other issues throughout the district, and provides pamphlets and information for teachers, staff, and parents on school violence issues.
But Reid said the team is not going to rest on their laurels.
Members currently are preparing for the annual bullying poster contest, in which students create designs with anti-bullying messages and the winners have their picture turned into a place-mat.
“The poster contest reinforces information that is there already,” Reid explained.
The group also is considering revamping the current Crime Stoppers program at schools to make it easier for students to come forward with information.
“We are also promoting events such as the ‘Yellow Dress,’ which will be performed at Backus Auditorium [in International Falls],” Reid said.
The play revolves around the lives of women who have experienced dating violence, and is free to parents and students in Grade 7 to college on both sides of the border.
Members on the team, which is made up of volunteers from schools and OPP officers, also are working with the Rainy River District School Board on anti-bullying policies.
As well, they are working on positive re-enforcement programs to promote safe and responsible behaviour.
“I’m proud of all that is happening and all the work that has been done to get us to this point,” Reid said.