Bessemer Academy faces many of the same challenges as other schools in Pueblo, Colorado, a town of 110,000 people that has struggled to reinvent itself in the face of deindustrialization and enormous job losses. Nearly 90% of students in Pueblo City Schools qualify for free or reduced lunch.
In January 2017, No Bully launched an anti-bullying initiative in Pueblo under a grant from the Colorado Department of Education. We also reached out to the local government, public health institutions, nonprofits, religious communities and businesses in the community. Collectively known as “Pueblo Future United,” we brought them together for their first meeting in May 2017 and then held a community-wide Peace Summit on October 7, 2017.
After the great success of the community-wide Peace Summit—the goal of which was to build a community where all youth feel safe, valued and supported in their efforts to learn—the No Bully leadership team at Bessemer set a new goal to make their next parent night the most successful in the school’s history.
Their biggest priority was to create a night that emphasized having parents just relax with their kids and learn about the school’s efforts to stop bullying in partnership with No Bully. They dubbed the Feb. 25 event a “Peaceful Night at Bessemer.”
Beyond making the atmosphere comfortable and relaxed, Bessemer’s leadership team knew it was critical to get the wider community involved in order to inform kids and their parents/guardians where they can go to participate in extracurricular activities or seek services in the community. In line with the evening’s themes of peace, relaxation and wellness, the leadership team invited a local yoga studio (Nova Stella), health services (health solutions, Parkview Medical Center Behavioral Center), a masseuse (Absolute Massage), EPIC Books, the Pueblo Police Department, and the Pueblo YMCA.
The average turnout for a parent night before this event had been between 5 and 15 people. But thanks to the tremendous efforts of Bessemer’s No Bully leadership team, more than 200 people participated in the parent night, the largest turnout for a parent night in the school’s history.
Kids and parents took Zumba lessons, played cup stacking, and had access to a calming app station. The app station showed parents what free calming apps they can use at home to de-stress and many of them were overheard saying how much they appreciated the massage station and the calming app.
We are excited for Bessemer’s record-breaking parent night— because it showed us that real change can happen when the leaders of each school become the leading protagonists in the fight to end bullying. We’re sure that other schools can benefit from this type of approach and hold their own peace summits that engage both youth and their parents. Congratulations Bessemer!