Geneva Catholic school's event featured walk, cyberbullying talk - Catholic Courier
Eric Bielski, information security manager for Rochester Regional Health Information Organization, talks with St. Francis-St. Stephen School students about cyberbullying and online safety during at the Geneva school Oct. 18. (Courier photo by John Haeger)

Eric Bielski, information security manager for Rochester Regional Health Information Organization, talks with St. Francis-St. Stephen School students about cyberbullying and online safety during at the Geneva school Oct. 18. (Courier photo by John Haeger)

Geneva Catholic school’s event featured walk, cyberbullying talk

Catholic-school students, college football players, parents and grandparents alike took to the streets of Geneva Oct. 18 for St. Francis-St. Stephen School’s Be Nicer Day.

One of the highlights of the day was the Geneva school’s third-annual fun walk, during which students raised nearly $15,000 for their school. The school’s youngest students, in the preschool and early elementary grades, walked 15 laps around the school’s campus, while students in the upper elementary and middle-school grades walked 15 laps around the block.

“That was really fun,” remarked sixth-grader Bella Humphrey. “You get a lot of exercise from it, and you can also walk around with friends. It’s really fun to do.”

The younger students walked at least some of their laps with their “buddies” from older grades. Each of the younger grades was matched up with one of the older grades, so preschool students walked with eighth-graders, kindergartners walked with seventh-graders and so on, explained Lorraine Williams, principal at St. Francis-St. Stephen.

“They were just cheering each other on. It was really cute,” Williams said.

Fourth-grader Ava Sweeney said she and her classmates worked together with their third-grade buddies to create purple T-shirts to wear during the fun walk.

“It said Be Nicer on the back, and then it had all of our handprints on the front,” Ava said.

Many of the football players from nearby Hobart and William Smith Colleges showed up at the school in uniform to cheer the students on, so even St. Francis-St. Stephen’s older students had role models to look up to,Williams said.

“Everybody had somebody older to be a good example,” she said. “The football players were there to high-five them (the students) when they finished a lap, and some of them walked along. The students had punch cards for each lap, and the Hobart kids checked their laps off. They had a little celebration for each lap.”

Quite a few parents and grandparents attended the walk as well, and some walked with the students while others handed out popcorn and snacks or cheered the students on from the sidelines.

“It was so wonderful to have all those generations in one place. That was fun to see,” Williams recalled.

“It was fun just because there was an adult at every corner, and they would give you high fives,” Bella added.

Earlier in the day, students in the school’s third through eighth grades had learned about the importance of Internet safety and ways to prevent cyberbullying. Eric Bielski, information security manager for Rochester Regional Health Information Organization, gave a presentation geared toward students in the third, fourth and fifth grades as well as one tailored to the needs and concerns of students in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades, Williams said.

“They enjoyed it. It was really mostly about how it’s not right to be cruel to others purposely online,” Williams said.

Kids often don’t think about the ramifications of posting information online, so Bielski’s presentation served as a reminder to them to think before sharing information, Williams said. Bielski also told them what they should do if they ever find themselves the victims of cyberbullying.

Bielski’s presentation was eye-opening, Bella remarked.

“Whatever you put online can never really be erased,” she said. “I knew (cyberbullying) could be harmful, but I learned a lot of things, like how you could hurt someone even more than the person doing the bullying would even imagine. What you say or put online can really affect someone.”

After attending the cyberbullying presentations, the student body enjoyed a pizza party and received new water bottles emblazoned with the words Be Nicer.

The whole day was a hit with students, Ava said.

“It’s just fun to do with friends,” she added.

Tags: Catholic Schools
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