Peace, man!

Washington Community School students win contest with anti-bullying scarecrow

When Steve Yurchak, a teacher at Washington Community School, talked to his students about the scarecrow they were going to design as part of a contest being offered by the Town Center, he said he wanted to do more than just make a scarecrow. He wanted the scarecrow to make a statement.
“We wanted to tie this into Dr. McGeehan’s ‘Let There Be Peace in Bayonne’ program,” he said last week.
Schools Superintendent Dr. Patricia McGeehan and the Board of Education introduced this year an anti-bullying campaign called “Let There Be Peace in Bayonne,” something designed to not only curb possible abuse of students by other students, but to empower victims of bullying and to encourage them to report these incidents.
A flyer issued earlier throughout the school district gave words of advice to parents, such as telling them never to advise kids to ignore bullying or blame the victim for being bullied. Also, parents should not encourage their children to harm the bully or even contact the parents of a suspected bully.

“We wanted to tie this into Dr. McGeehan’s ‘Let There Be Peace in Bayonne’ program.” – Steve Yurchak
The program encourages parents to talk with their children and to empathize with them, and to work with the school district to deal with the situation.
The school district introduced the new program to meet the stipulations of a New Jersey law that said every district had to have an anti-bullying policy in place by Sept. 1.
“Our anti-bullying theme creates a culture of respect and caring, and fosters harmony among our students,” Dr. McGeehan said.

A joint effort

Yurchak’s art class – with the aid of Assistant Karen Laba – began to create a scarecrow they would eventually name “Peace Man.”
Using an old pair of jeans Yurchak said he could no longer fit into and a psychedelic shirt donated by another member of the staff, the art students spent about 10 hours assembling what would become the winning entry.
Mary Divock, executive director of Bayonne Town Center Management, said each of the public schools submitted an entry that was displayed in front of various businesses in the shopping district.

Displayed at local businesses

Pat Squitieri, secretary for the district’s music and art program, said Philip G. Vroom School’s scarecrow was at the UPS Store; Walter Robinson School’s Cat in the Hat, Midtown Community School’s peace scarecrow with a military jacket, Horace Mann’s tiger, and Henry Harris School’s hawk scarecrow were all on display at The Networking Café; Mary J. Donohoe had a clown at Petridis Hot Dog along with Woodrow Wilson’s scarecrow; and Lincoln Community School’s lion, Washington School’s winning Peace Man, and Nicholas Oresko School’s hippie scarecrow with guitar were featured at Herbert’s Army and Navy.
Tim Craig, the district’s new music and art director, was the main coordinator of this promotion. The BTC bought the supplies.
“Mary called me looking for something for Halloween to see if I had anything in mind. We talked about a couple of things,” Craig said. “I had seen scarecrows in other towns. I put together the program. I think they looked great.”
Members of the City Council were asked to judge the contest. Each was to travel from store to store and then select a winner.
Prior to this, the Washington Community School entry had a problem. The arm that was supposed to be lifted displaying the peace sign had fallen, and Yurchak had to rush over with a wire hanger in order to get the arm up in time for the judging.
Yurchak said he hopes to have the winning students from his art class at the Town Center Halloween and Costume Parade on Halloween to receive a trophy and a Town Center gift card, which will allow the students to hold a small celebration at the school.

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