Concordia Parish schools set to curb violence

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 18, 2001

VIDALIA, La. – By adding a nationally known violence prevention program to its curriculum starting in August, the Concordia Parish School District is attempting to get serious about stopping school violence.

All day Wednesday, more than 30 teachers, counselors and administrators gathered at the district’s main offices to learn more about the &uot;Get Real About Violence&uot; program.

The district now averages just 3.6 fights per 1,000 students per year, said Clarence Hymon, the district’s safe and drug-free schools coordinator.

&uot;But that’s the thing about this program – it’s focused on preventing it before it starts,&uot;&160;said Vidalia High Assistant Principal Henry Murphy, who also attended the session. &uot;We don’t have many fights, … and we want it to stay that way.&uot;

The program teaches students in kindergarten through 12th grade strategies for managing conflicts before they turn into violent confrontations, said workshop presenter Neal Starkman.

&uot;Get Real&uot; lessons can be woven into each school subject over a period of several weeks through the use of videos, learning games, debates, small group work and other methods.

&uot;We’re learning how to implement it throughout the curriculum, from social studies … to health,&uot;&160;said Lloyd Paul, a Vidalia High School counselor who attended Wednesday’s workshop.

Teachers and other adults at parish schools will also be taught how to effectively defuse conflicts and form a more supportive environment that encourages nonviolence. A &uot;core team&uot; of students and employees will also be set up to manage the program at each school.

&uot;It includes the whole school community – teachers, custodians, secretaries, … everyone,&uot; Hymon said.

To participate in the federal government’s Title IV program, the district must take concrete steps to reduce school violence and drug use, Hymon said.