SOUTH TAMPA — Bayshore Christian School is hosting an event next week that, administrators admit, is a bit unusual.
Small private schools don’t often hold anti-bullying seminars, said Tara Connors, the school’s director of advancement, but their students deal with the same issues as other kids, even if they are learning in a faith-based environment.
A public forum on Tuesday will address those issues, Connors said.
The school on MacDill Avenue is hosting two assemblies for students and an evening seminar for parents, law enforcement officials and anyone else who is interested. The discussion will include topics such as bullying, abstinence, body image, violence, substance abuse, self abuse and prison life, Connors said.
“It’s really just an effort by us to take the blinders off, educate ourselves and educate our students,” she said.
The sessions will be led by Phil Chalmers, a national expert on bullying and violence in schools. Chalmers has appeared on shows such as E! Network’s “Billionaire Crime Scenes” and “Too Young to Kill,” as well as Spike TV’s “Don’t Be a Victim.”
Chalmers, who does seminars like this one all over the country, will focus his talks on the outcome of making positive and negative choices, Connors said.
“It’s not just about violence,” she said. “You can feel unsafe at school if you’re not being treated well.”
Administrators thought the seminar would be a good way to promote the school’s Bible verse for the year: “Do everything in love.”
“That verse really resounded to me,” said 17-year-old Michael Mirabella, a senior who suggested the verse to the school’s headmaster this summer.
Guided by that verse, and given recent reports of violence in schools and among young people, the school thought this seminar was a good opportunity to learn how to prevent those acts of violence, Connors said.
“We’re trying to promote a culture of youth that is tolerant and kind and caring and to promote a culture of aware adults,” she said.
The seminar will be funded by the Tyler Foss Memorial Fund, founded by Patty and Dan Foss in honor of their son, who died when he was 23. The couple uses the fund to support causes and events that address social issues in schools, Patty Foss said.
They hosted similar forums led by Chalmers in their hometown of Hutchinson, Kan., and wanted to put one on at Bayshore Christian, where their granddaughters go to school.
Bullying and violence have been big problems in schools in recent years and they aren’t always addressed well, Foss said.
Chalmers’ message is so powerful and moving that they wanted to help spread it, she said.
And not just to schools, but law enforcement officers, parents and youth program directors as well.
“At any age, wherever you are in life, there is definitely something to be learned about how we should treat each other,” Foss said.