Catholic Schools Week to feature anti-bullying, substance abuse presentations

Published 1:03 am Saturday, January 27, 2018


NATCHEZ — As a kickoff to Catholic Schools Week, which begins on Monday, Cathedral School will host an anti-bullying and substance-abuse speaker.

Motivational speaker Robert Hackenson Jr., will deliver presentations to both students and parents beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Monday.

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Cathedral Elementary School Principal Shannon Bland, who held a key position in organizing the event, said much of the benefit comes from mere awareness of the severity of youth issues.

“For instance, vaping. We didn’t know that some students vape, and I don’t think students know that it’s just as bad as cigarettes,” Bland said. “We don’t want to wait until we are reacting to a problem. We want to be proactive.”

The extent to which social media can affect a student’s mental health, too, is an important topic for parents to fully understand.

For third- through fifth-graders, Hackenson will focus on bullying and bullying prevention in schools.

In this section, Hackenson will focus on the factors that can lead someone into bullying behavior, the repercussions of bullying both online and in person and the function of a bystander.

“For the little ones, it’s all about bystanders and how important it is to step up,” Bland said.

For sixth through eighth graders, he will tackle a prevalent topic: social media.

As online forms of communication have developed, as have the social pressures surrounding it, he said. Hackenson will cover the dangers of posting too much information online, technology addiction and social media technology among other topics.

The final student presentation, for ninth through 12th-graders, will focus on substance abuse and awareness.

After students have gone home, Hackenson will spend time with parents and cover all three topics.

“For parents, it’s ‘What should we be looking for?’” Bland said.

The event, which will be held in the elementary school multipurpose room, is free and the 5:30 p.m. parents’ session is open to the community.

Bland said she also feels the topics Hackenson covers will aid students both in school and in the community.

“We want to equip our kids not just for school, but for the future,” Bland said. “We want them to carry these lessons out into the community.”

Bland said the spirited, engaging nature of Hackenson’s teaching method would actually engage students, not simple lecture to them.

“They’re going to have fun,” Bland said.

Teaching students to implement the speaker’s lesson, Bland said, is a way students fulfills a key part of Cathedral School’s mission.

“It’s a part of treating everyone like Jesus would,” Bland said. “This is about our county as a whole.”