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Cary Trivanovich speaks to all Mooseheart students on the subject of anti-bullying on Oct. 15.
MOOSEHEART, Oct. 12 - One year ago, Mooseheart’s students began a multi-faceted approach to raise awareness of bullying and ways to combat it.
This year, that effort continues and the amount of time directly allocated for anti-bullying has more than doubled.
And the effort to raise that awareness starts Monday, Oct. 15, when Cary Trivanovich comes to speak to all levels of Mooseheart children. Trivanovich is the featured speaker at three separate assemblies for Mooseheart students. Elementary-level students will hear Trivanovich speak from 8:30-9:30 a.m.; middle schoolers will have their assembly from 9:30-10:30 a.m. while high school-aged students will hear Trivanovich from 10:30-11:30 a.m. All three assemblies will take place at the Mooseheart Fieldhouse.
“We looked at different speakers,” Mooseheart Dean of Students Michaela Ahrens said. “He seemed to be the one who would be most universal, to be able to speak to our elementary as well as our high school students.”
The interesting thing about Mooseheart’s efforts is that there is agreement among students and staffers alike that bullying is generally not a problem at the Child City, where students not only go to school together but live year-round as well -- and under relatively close supervision.
But, said Ahrens, “they still need to recognize how people should be treated and why they should be treated that way. It’s more for us to work to preserve the positive peer culture at our school, rather than us fixing a major problem.”
Although bullying may not be a problem at Mooseheart, Ahrens said many students have certainly experienced bullying before they arrived -- and nearly all are aware of the problem.
“The kids here know it goes on outside of here,” Ahrens said. “Some kids come here and say, ‘you should have seen my last school.’ ”
Mooseheart educates students from preschool through high school, meaning the school needed to find a versatile speaker. Trivanovich is just such a person. More than a lecture, Trivanovich delivers a performance -- and he has done this in more than 3,000 schools across America. His message is “Choose Character Over Bullying.”
“We’re thankful that he agreed to split his performances into three groups,” Ahrens said.
During the 2011-12 school year, Mooseheart students conducted a half-day workshop on anti-bullying for high school students, while younger children had a shorter program, mainly centered around signing an anti-bullying pledge.
This year, a number of activities are planned. Following Trivanovich’s performances, the next is Oct. 25 -- a series of anti-bullying activities for elementary-aged students. One feature of the Oct. 25 program is a skit by Mooseheart students called “Lace Up Against Bullying,” in which a student is bullied for wearing Orange and Purple shoelaces. Mooseheart students will be wearing Orange and Purple shoelaces during and after that skit.
“Ever since last year, we made anti-bullying our goal, one of our goals was to address bullying,” Ahrens said.
Since its founding, Mooseheart has operated a complete, accredited kindergarten-through-high-school academic program, plus art, music, vocational training and interscholastic sports. It is an extremely nurturing and student-tailored program, with an average student-teacher ratio of 12-1.
Mooseheart students who complete their studies with a 3.0 GPA or better (4.0=A) are eligible for up to five years of annually renewable scholarship funding, covering tuition, room and board in an amount comparable to that required for an in-state student at an Illinois public university.
Mooseheart is currently home to roughly 200 students, ranging in age from preschoolers to high school seniors. Applications for admission to Mooseheart are considered from any family whose children are, for whatever reason, lacking a stable home environment. Mooseheart boasts its own U.S. Post Office and a fully functioning branch of Fifth Third Bank.
In addition to Mooseheart, Moose International also supports Moosehaven, a 72-acre retirement community near Jacksonville, FL founded in 1922; and conducts more than $70 million worth of community service programs annually.