Officer James Bard walks the hallways of Hammond Elementary School in Odessa. It’s his school—and his job to make sure the school is safe and the students and staff feel secure.
This is his first year at Hammond Elementary as its full-time officer on site. He’s quickly become part of the family and gotten to know a lot of the students and recognize their amazing potential. When October rolled around, he and the school guidance counselor went to each fifth grade class to do a power-point presentation about the dangers of bullying. But Officer Bard wanted to do more. “With them going into sixth grade next year and obviously, after that, high school, they have more of a chance to encounter bullying themselves or witness somebody else being bullied,” he said. “They all need to know, no matter what grade they’re in, they have a voice."
That’s when he came up with the idea to challenge 5th graders to find creative ways to demonstrate the anti-bullying message. He pitched it to school administration, who were all for it. “He has come into our Hammond family this year and come up with some really wonderful ideas to promote kindness and good character,” said Hammond’s Assistant Principal, Nina Arterburn, “We gave him the GO and he really did a great job with it”.
He’s not the only one who did a great job! The students were excited and energized by the contest! They teamed-up to create unique, innovative ways of getting the anti-bullying message across to their friends. Some teams created presentations, others made cartoon videos—but there was one entry that really stood out to Officer Bard and his team of judges.
Quinnlyn Cordero, Gavin Gonzalez, Jenna Fortenberry and Hannah Minnis shot a video of the wrong way and the right way to handle several bullying situations. The young team conceptualized each scene, acted it out, shot it on a camera and edited it together into a 7 minute anti-bullying masterpiece.
Their video was a hit!
“Sometimes when you just talk about bullying people get bored and don’t actually listen,” said Hannah. “I think this way, what we did, is more fun for us and everyone else to watch!” Quinnlyn agreed, “You can’t just say, don’t do it, it is better when you give an example."
Since winning the contest, the talented foursome has received a lot of attention. The school held a mini-assembly in their honor and each of them were given a certificate with their name on it. Then, to top it off, Officer Bard threw them a pizza party! But the coolest part is knowing their video may help other kids recognize bullying and know how to act if confronted by a bully.
With the success of this contest, Officer Bard has grander plans for next year. He wants to make it a district-wide competition where the winner of each school goes to compete at a district level.
Quinnlyn, Gavin, Jenna and Hannah are all for that idea. They’ll be moved on to middle school by then—but each hopes Officer Bard’s anti-bullying contest becomes an annual event. They all say having an officer on campus all the time is a great experience. Especially one as amazing as theirs.
“Officer Bard makes us feel safe,” Jenna said shyly, “Yeah, he’s pretty great."
Watch their winning video here: https://youtu.be/QyCYVi6djTo.