By Stacy Howard
Seattle University recently welcomed hundreds of local high school students to campus along with top SU and city leaders for a school safety conference on Jan. 22. While the conference had been in the works for months, the importance of maintaining a safe and secure school environment for communities nationwide has received added emphasis in the wake of the December tragedy in Connecticut.
In this first annual Impact! Safe Schools event, SU President Steven Sundborg, S.J., Seattle Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith and Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Jose Banda kicked off the day by addressing the importance of students becoming leaders and sharing ownership for solving problems in their schools.
Sam Song, director of the School Psychology program in the College of Education, pictured with Assistant Police Chief Nick Metz, facilitated the day. With extensive academic expertise in the field of youth violence and bullying, Song specializes in preventing children from being exposed to violence. He says when students act as leaders engaging in school activities to promote crime prevention and anti-bullying, a safer environment results.
Students were inspired and motived by several guest speakers, including: SU Head Men's Basketball Coach Cameron Dollar, SPD Assistant Police Chief Nick Metz, UW Women's Basketball Coach/Broadcaster Adia Barnes and Radio DJ Tony "B" Benton.
"To be a leader, you must have integrity," Dollar told the students, regarding anti-bullying in their schools.
In addition to hearing words of wisdom from guest speakers, the students, community leaders and law enforcement officials discussed strategies and collaborated to design school action plans. The plans will be implemented and SU and its community partners will continue to work with the students to stop bullying and violence.