High school to provide training for students on intervening when bullying occurs

Taft Union High School is going to emulate Lincoln Junior High School and participate in the Safe School Ambassador program.

Its a program that teaches and empowers students to engage in non-confrontational strategies too intervene when they see bullying.

The TUHS District Governing Board approved a contract with Community Matters to bring the program to the high school campus, where allegations of bullying have been made in connection with the highly-publicized shooting of TUHS student Bowe Cleveland in January.

In fact, the school has already started.

Student Body Advisor Eric Newtown and some of the ASB officers took part in training this summer, said Superintendent Blanca Cavazos.

"We really want our students to engage in this program, engage the in this training," she told the board.
The program will be instituted at the TUHS campus and at Buena Vista High School, the district's alternative education school.

The district already has a lot of students that are familiar with the program after being ambassadors at Lincoln.

"We have students coming to us that already have some training in this. We can capitalize on that," Cavazos said.

One of them is Lizette Mendoza, the TUHS student body president.

"Bringing this program to the school will make a tremendous difference," Mendoza told the board. "I'm looking forward to seeing a difference at this school."

As an added benefit, it will get students not already involved in sports, clubs or other activities more involved in school, Cavazos said.

Community Matters started the Safe School Ambassadors program in 2000 and now has more than 16,000 students at 1,200 schools participating, according to its website.

Students are trained at two-day sessions with adults working as mentors, and the program costs approximately $125 per student.