By LINDA LOBECK
KINGSFORD - It's been nearly a year in the making, and on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. a nationally-known speaker and author will be coming to the Kingsford High School auditorium.
The focus of the special presentation is to talk about student bullying and aggression.
Lt. Col. David Grossman is being brought to the area through the efforts of a committee of school administrators, lead teachers and counselors from 12 area districts.
This group of 20 has been organizing and meeting since last year with their efforts so far implementing resources on Eyes on Bullying on each school website, coming up with a unified definition of bullying, and putting up posters with anti-bullying messages designed by high school students.
All of this work has led up to this week when the anti-bullying plans will be put into place for the 2012-13 school year.
Lt. Col. Grossman's presentation is free and open to the public with students, parents, grandparents and all interested community members invited to attend and learn more about this problem, which has been given a high priority in local schools.
His presentation will focus on causes of bullying and violent crime and how we can reverse the escalating levels of bullying and violence in schools.
Grossman is a former West Point psychology professor, professor of military science and an Army ranger. His is also an internationally recognized scholar, author, soldier and speaker, who is one of the world's foremost experts in the field of human aggression and the roots of violence and violent crime.
He is the author of the Pulitzer-nominated book, "On Killing," and the critically acclaimed book, "Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill." He also served as a key trainer in the aftermath of Littleton, Colo. and other school shootings.
Kingsford High School Principal Lyle Smithson noted that Grossman was highly recommended as a top speaker on this issue and the committee started early on working to schedule him to come to the area. They wanted a public presentation followed by an inservice day for teachers.
"We have more than 500 teachers and administrators who will attend the inservice day Thursday with Lt. Col. Grossman kicking off the day with a three hour presentation in the morning. In the afternoon, we have 15 breakout sessions planned that the teachers can pick from that are both age and topic specific. We are talking about sessions for early childhood and kindergarten teachers, early elementary, later elementary, middle and high school students," Smithson said.
A couple of the members of the committee had heard Grossman speak already and his name is a familiar one when they started talking about getting a dynamic speaker to give a presentation. The goal was to have this happen at the beginning of the new school year.
"We decided that this was a better time to do this to start out the year with an anti-bullying focus and getting our plans and goals in line in each of our districts. The energy is high now and will only get higher once this presentation and inservice are held this week. We really felt that he (Grossman) fit the bill on the message we want to get out for our schools. A similar program was done in the Delta-Schoolcraft area and was very successful," Smithson noted.
School districts that have been involved in this committee and sponsoring the presentation this week include Breitung Township, Dickinson-Iron Technical Center, West Iron, Iron Mountain, Forest Park, Norway, North Dickinson, Bishop Baraga Catholic, Holy Spirit Catholic, Iron Mountain-Kingsford Alternative Education, Niagara and Florence schools.
The problems with bullying brought about new legislations signed last year in Michigan requiring schools to adopt anti-bullying policies.
On Thursday, Smithson said, they will close out of the day by each district meeting separately for a debriefing.
"We'll get together and talk about what impacted us that day and where we are going in our own school on the issue of anti-bullying. It gives closure to that day and we'll take the last 40 minutes to talk about what we collectively want to do this year, what we can implement in our buildings and develop a plan."
He added that this has been a huge undertaking for the area with getting representatives from each school involved and meeting on a regular basis. "We have a nice variety of people with different perspectives on this problem. We've been able to share information and curriculum as well as using each other's resources. I believe there is power in numbers it's taken this committee to accomplish what we are doing."
Smithson said that education needs to take place with teachers as well as students and parents on how to deal with bullying, coping skills for kids, and how to handle problems.
"With everyone coming together to do this, it sends a message from the top down that we support this anti-bullying initiative. It's something that we've all put on the front burner and are giving the highest priority to dealing with."
At the public presentation Wednesday, there will be a time for questions and answers as well as resource material available to purchase afterwards.
"We want to encourage students from all of the districts to attend as well as adults. We are encouraging some of our own students groups - Student Council and SADD - to attend the presentation," Smithson added.