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Walnut Creek program discourages bullying, bigotry

These cupcakes surround a “round house” display, which pays homage to Native American history. It is the creation of teachers on Team Sweet Relief during Walnut Creek Elementary School’s Holiday Cupcake Wars competition.

These cupcakes surround a “round house” display, which pays homage to Native American history. It is the creation of teachers on Team Sweet Relief during Walnut Creek Elementary School’s Holiday Cupcake Wars competition.

Wearing a hand-sewn apron her grandmother created 50 years ago, Becca Capps fumbled with some of the ornaments — baked cupcakes, hanging in plastic bags. Then, she carefully mounted the paper store atop the artificial Christmas tree, a finishing touch to her team’s holiday cupcakes display.

Capps, a third-grade teacher at Walnut Creek Elementary School, in McDonough, joined some 40 other staff and faculty members, and their teams, to compete for the honors of top cupcake and cupcake display.

School officials created the competition, “Holiday Cupcake Wars,” as an activity to kick off their efforts to become an Anti-Defamation League “No Place for Hate” school. The contest also coincided with the school’s faculty and staff holiday party on Dec. 15.

“No Place for Hate” is a nationwide campaign to promote understanding among the world’s different cultures and peoples, according to Trude Hinson, Walnut Creek’s media specialist. The campaign asks schools, who hold the “No Place for Hate” banner to incorporate programs that provide multicultural education to students, teachers, and staff members. The teachings include components that discourage bullying and bigotry.

This month, about 40 members of Walnut Creek’s faculty and staff got a jump start on their students by taking part in the cupcake-decoration, team competition.

Hinson said teams of contestants were required to bake cupcakes and decorate them in a global holiday theme and, in some way, incorporate different cultures of the world.

The cupcakes and cupcake displays were judged, based on the cupcakes’ themes, taste, and visual appeal. They were judged by Henry County Schools Superintendent Ethan Hildreth, Learning and Leadership Services Executive Officer Greg Benton, Americans with Disabilities Act/Section 504 Coordinator Jessica Stormer, and Shelly DeLisle, owner of Bliss, a local bakery.

Eight teams competed. The winners included: the Third-Grade Rocks Team that created a Christmas Tree display with Christmas greeting ornaments written in different languages (third place); the Sweet Relief Team, for its Native American display (second place); and first-place winner, the Divas Team, for its interpretation of “Santa Around the World.”

There were also winners in the school’s bulletin board decoration contest the week of Dec. 12, Hinson added. The winners were the special needs classes of Jeffery Jackson and Eric Wilson.

“The feedback has been absolutely marvelous, and everybody is excited about doing it next year,” said Hinson. “It may be an annual event, possibly including the community.”

The media specialist noted that students and staff at the school will be asked to sign a “No Place for Hate” pledge when they return to school in January.

The pledge reads: “I promise to do my best to treat everyone fairly. I promise to do my best to be kind to everyone, even if they are not like me. If I see someone being hurt or bullied, I will tell a teacher. Everyone should be able to feel safe and happy in school. I want our school to be No Place for Hate.”

Hinson said the school has planned other activities to keep the pledge’s objective at the forefront of the school community’s mind. She said the collective hope is that greater attention to interpersonal relationships will foster good citizenship, and curtail potential disciplinary problems that may arise from bullying and intolerance.

“We have a number of different cultures here at our school,” she said, “and we want to have everyone appreciative of their own culture, and have others appreciative of their culture.”

To learn more about the Anti-Defamation League and its “No Place for Hate” School Program, visit www.adl.org.