By Don Pace
Las Vegas Optic
Sierra Vista Elementary School fourth-grader Edwardo Gallegos stood before the Las Vegas Schools board last week expressing his concern and possible remedies to curb bullying at his school.
“We are having some serious problems at my school. We have a lot of students who like to bully other students, and don’t respect others,” Gallegos told the board.
Gallegos said earlier in the year, Principal Martha Johnsen asked the student body to think about how kids could help fix the problem.
“She thought Sierra Vista students would have some good ideas, so these are some of the things I thought would help. We could have a group of students, who I would call the ‘no bullying squad,’ who would wear badges and patrol the halls and playgrounds. That is where most of the problems take place,” Gallegos said.
Gallegos also suggested students take part in a mediation program. He said sometimes students don’t get along because kids belong to different cliques that are often at odds with one another.
“If we had a mediation program at school, it would reward students who do good. Ms. Johnsen has started a good deeds program where we get a good deed card when we are caught doing something nice or helpful,” Gallegos said.
Johnsen said her greatest resource to stop bullying are the students themselves. “We are talking to the kids who are in school and asking them, ‘What can we do?’“
Johnsen said Gallegos and his classmates have been very proactive in trying to address the problem of bullying and make the school environment safer.
“Edwardo is full of ideas as to what we could do to address problems here at the school, including helping to monitor hallways. I thought who better than students, who see what’s happening in the cafeteria, on the playground and in the hallways, to offer suggestions on how to stop kid-on-kid violence,” Johnsen said.
Gallegos was accompanied to the school board meeting by his family. He said before the meeting his sister Rebecca had butterflies in her stomach.
“It was very scary standing up there in front of the superintendent and the school board and everybody, and give a speech. But I felt like I had to because I care about the kids in my school, and I hope the bullying will stop, and things get better each year,” Gallegos said.
Teacher Laureen Romero said Edwardo and other students her fourth-grade class have been working on ideas on how to prevent bullying.
“A lot of students have wanted to do something about bullying, because they know it affects them in many ways. They feel bad for their peers who have been bullied and want to do something about it,” Romero said.
Besides trying to stop the violence at his school, Gallegos has another lofty goal. He says he wants to be President of the United States one day.
Edwardo is the son of Ben and Jessica Gallegos, his siblings are Rebecca and Margarito.