The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

HS Sports Greater Johnstown

September 19, 2012

Richland, Johnstown look to tackle bullying

JOHNSTOWN — Two local school districts are banding together to stop bullying.

Richland and Greater Johnstown school districts might be rivals on the football field, but players, students and fans will unite at Friday night’s game and hold a whiteout to show that they stand together in the fight against bullying.

The game will be held at 7 p.m. at Herlinger Field in Richland.

Between the first and second quarters, members of the Johnstown branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will address the crowd and acknowledge the efforts of the two districts.

“This is the kickoff to our anti-bullying program here in the district,” said Tom Smith, principal of Richland Elementary School. “We contacted Johnstown administrators to see if they’d like to join us, and they thought it was a good idea for both schools to show the area that bullying is something that needs to be addressed and we need to celebrate diversity.”

Every student in Richland received a white T-shirt with the district’s anti-bullying slogan, “Not Here! Not in Our School!” printed on the back.

Students are encouraged to wear the shirt not only to Friday’s game, but also to other sports home games and every third Friday of the month to show support.

Greater Johnstown High School Principal Mike Vuckovich said bringing the two schools together will hopefully send a strong message that bullying is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

“We are honored and excited about this opportunity,” he said. “Bullying can happen anywhere, and there is a need for schools to step in to make sure students are in a safe environment.”

Vuckovich said they are in the process of having shirts made for students and sending high school students to the elementary schools to promote the anti-bullying message.

“We want our students to know it’s always a good idea to do the right thing and they need to take care of each other,” he said.

Smith encouraged everyone to come out Friday, wear white and cheer on their team, but he said to also keep the bigger picture in mind.

“There will be two teams battling for a win, but together we are fighting against bullying,” he said.

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