In opposition to bullying and in favor of leadership, Hay Branch Elementary School developed a group of Kid Leaders.
Buoyed by a $1,400 KISD Education Foundation grant, school counselor Karen Bunjes organized a team-building field trip and brought in local leaders to help spur on a group of 17 students.
The chosen fourth- and fifth-graders also spent time during the semester teaching a leadership curriculum to first- and second-graders.
The young leaders hosted a luncheon Thursday, with campus leaders and Education Foundation board members as guests.
The students, who benefited from the grant and the leadership training, presented information with posters and videos about the leadership traits they learned.
One video, called “Up, Up and Away!” documented the students’ experience visiting Peaceable Kingdom Retreat for Children, where those who wanted to soared on a zip line.
Another video, called “The Bystander Experience,” explained the dangers of passive and harmful bystanders and the merits of helpful bystanders related to bullying.
Another presentation, “Bullying, We’ll Stop It!” showed interviews the students conducted using a puppet and gathering student and staff thoughts on their experiences with bullies.
“It was cool because we got to work with younger kids,” fifth-grader Joshua Howard said. “We learned how to cooperate with other people and to face fears. We learned about leadership.”
Members of the Killeen City Council and University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football players visited the students to teach about teamwork.
Fifth-grader Jacoby Donald said the experience was inspirational.
“It helps us inspire the minds of other people,” Jacoby said. “Leadership, trust and a whole lot of things mixed together.”
He said he learned the value of committing to help everyone — students who tend to be bullied and those who tend to do the bullying.
“It felt like a blessing,” Jacoby said of the luncheon shared with community leaders. “It felt like a once in a lifetime experience.”
Bunjes said she watched with pride as students transformed into leaders.
“The idea was to teach them they can overcome difficulties and they did that when they were given leadership roles,” Bunjes said.
“They saw that positive and negative outcomes result based on the different roads you take.”