Elementary School Program Builds Character and Relationships

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An elementary school program builds character and better relationships through fun activities for fourth and fifth grade boys and girls.

Lebanon’s Harding Elementary School was a hive of activity as dozens of fourth- and fifth-grade boys from all five city elementary schools participated in Lebanon School District’s third annual Boys Night Out Program.

Accompanied by their father, teacher or another influential man in their lives, the boys were scheduled to take part in an evening of fun that included a karate demonstration by John Devine of Isshinryu Karate and some challenging tests under the direction of several Lebanon Valley College football players.

Underlying all the fun were a number of character building lessons, said guidance counselor Jamie Walton, who helped organize the event.

“The theme of the evening is courage, confidence and discipline,” she said.

Boys Night Out is the counterpart of the Girls Night Out program that Walton created with her colleagues in the district including Jayne Hain, Lindsey Longo, Beth Schaughnessy and Ken Travis.

Elementary School Program Builds Character and Relationships

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A former Lebanon Middle School guidance counselor, Walton said she was struck when she moved to Southeast Elementary School by a change in the interpersonal relationships she noticed when girls reach fourth grade.

Walton took her observation to the other counselors, and together they created the Girls Night Out program.

Character Building

“Fourth and fifth grade seems to be the time when the drama starts and the relational aggression, with girls gossiping about each other. I guess you can call it girl bullying,” she said. “We wanted to come up with ways to defuse that so they get along and develop positive relationships.”This year’s Girls Night Out was held in November and attracted about 125 fourth- and fifth-grade girls, Walton said

Like Boys Night Out, girls in fourth and fifth grades attend the two-hour event with their mother or other influential woman who serves as a positive role model, including teachers and district staff.

Like the boys, they break into small groups for activities that this year included a Zumba demonstration from local instructor Sarah Wickenheiser, a bracelet-making craft, and a team building exercise run by Lebanon High School cheerleaders.

When organizing the small groups, a conscious effort is made to mix girls from different schools so they can make new friends who will be recognized when they go to Lebanon Middle School in sixth grade, Walton said.

The girl’s event also always includes a discussion group about the issue of relational aggression, which this year was facilitated by viewing videos of district girls in various role-playing situations, Walton said.

“We want them to understand what relational aggression is and give them the tools so they can stand up for themselves,” she said. “I think it is working. We don’t have as much drama from the girls as I’ve had in the past.”

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Elementary School Program Builds Character and Relationships

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