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Keeping Our Schools Safe

Local parents and community members form bullying watch group.
SAXTON, BEDFORD COUNTY - “Keeping Our Schools Safe”
 
That's the mission of one group of parents and community members at Tussey Mountain High School that's seen first-hand how damaging bullying can be.
 
“There were some tears. Some really shocked looks on their faces,” Tammie Shirley says.
 
That's the reaction Tammie Shirley and Kathy Croft say Tussey Mountain School Board members had when students and parents shared their stories of bullying at last months meeting.
 
“I'm a proud graduate. I'm a mother of a student. I'm an alumni member. I own property here so I have a lot invested in it,” Kathy Croft says.
 
Croft's 13 year-old son also has autism and she says he's been picked on constantly.
 
“One of his biggest challenges are social issues. He has a hard time fitting in with his peers,” Croft says.
 
Croft and Shirley created the group "Keeping Our Schools Safe".
 
They have dozens of local parents and students joining them, plus an even bigger group on Facebook.
 
“That's where we're going to reach our students. Other than contacting them through programs at the school,” Croft says.
 
“We don't want it to fall on deaf ears so we took what they had to say. We evaluated it and we're looking at some things that we could do better,” Tussey Mountain School District Superintendent Mark Bollman says.
 
Bollman says the school is always on the lookout for bullying and they have programs aimed at stopping it.
 
“Recently we had State Police in for multiple sessions for each grade level here at the Junior and Senior High School,” Bollman says.
 
Croft and Shirley would like to see more and they presented a list of options they hope the district will consider.
 
“I hope that students, teachers, parents, grandparents learn to stand up and speak out because it's a very large issue. It's an elephant in the room,” Croft says.
 
The group hopes to continue working with school officials to implement some of their proposed programs for next school year. They plan to meet again in June.
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