By Jessica Easthope
Unlike many other elementary schools, students at Sacred Heart Catholic Academy in Glendale say cyberbullying isn’t a big problem.
“Some of my friends deal with it at public school but I think here we take care of it well there’s none of that going on here which I’m proud to say,” said student Olivia Gorski.
But these middle schoolers are clued in to the horrors others face, which is why they’re learning new ways to get in front of the problem.
“It’s in the front of my mind now every time I post I say will I show my grandma this and if I would I post it and if I wouldn’t I don’t,” said student Avinash Singh.
Sacred Heart rounded out Catholic Schools Week with a unique exercise designed to teach kids how to navigate the realities of cyberbullying – an escape room.
Christina Sama-Bommarito , a school psychologist at the Mary Louis Academy, came to Sacred Heart to conduct her own version of the now popular “escape the room” experience.
Students broke off into small groups and frantically decoded paragraphs and deciphered codes.
They weren’t racing to unlock themselves out of a room but instead looking to beat the clock to discover the key to being kind online, a lesson Sama-Bommarito says is more important now than ever before.
“How we behave and how we act really does have a major impact on the people around us and I think that’s crucial and important too especially with digital media,” said Sama-Bommarito.
Although the activity is teaching students how to become better virtual versions of themselves, staff says the end goal is something very real.
“They should be presenting themselves online the way they are in person and if they take that message away from these two days then we consider that a big win for the school,” said Theresia Stalzer, the Resource Coordinator for Sacred Heart Catholic Academy.