Puyallup School District principals, counselors and teachers are working to ensure students feel safe and are treated fairly by their peers while attending school.
The Puyallup Rotary Club has started a program with the district to fund a Challenge Day that would be implemented in all three high schools and the seven junior highs starting next fall.
“Rotary’s goal has always been to choose projects that have a greater reach than just one person,” said Chanel Studebaker, chair of the Puyallup Rotary Crab and Oyster Stew Feed event, which has been organized to raise money to bring Challenge Day to the schools. “We’re looking at a long-term cumulative effect that will impact the culture within our schools.”
Bullying is a rising concern among parents and educators with 160,000 children staying at home each day from school out of fear, according to a 2010 report by the U.S. Department of Education.
Challenge Day is a nationally recognized program that has served more than 1 million youth since 1987.
The one-day program teaches a cross-section of 100 students at each school about building empathy for others and igniting a movement of compassion and positive change.
Following Challenge Day, those same students form a Be the Change Team to sustain the movement and spread the culture of compassion to students in the school.
Puyallup Rotary brought Challenge Day to Puyallup High School for the first time last fall at a cost of $3,000. Studebaker said students and staff members were excited with the results.
The Puyallup Rotary decided it wants to bring Challenge Day to all of the high schools and junior highs this fall, but it will require $30,000 to $35,000 to fund the program, Studebaker said.
“We have had the community really behind this, and that is a good feeling,” said Blair Sexton, a co-chair with Studebaker.
Sexton said many businesses are supporting the project, including Best Western. Chuck Valley, the general manager of the Puyallup hotel, covered the cost of rooms for the two Challenge Day facilitators last fall, Sexton said.
The 51st annual benefit dinner will be held at 6 p.m. March 22 in the Expo Hall at the Puyallup Fairgrounds.
The dinner will include all-you-can-eat Dungeness Crab, clam chowder, oyster stew, coleslaw, potato salad and hot dogs.
Beer and wine will be available for purchase, and there will be live entertainment and raffle prizes.
“There is a lot of momentum here,” Studebaker said.
Studebaker said the club is looking for volunteers to work the event and also for business sponsorships. Community sponsorships range from $250 to $5,000.
Tickets are $35 each or $15 each for non-seafood. A limited number will be available at the door for $50 each. To purchase in advance, call 253-606-7242, visit www.facebook.com/rotaryclubofpuyallup, or a Puyallup Rotarian. For more information about Challenge Day, visit www.challengeday.org.Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.