Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Officials Tout Plan for Peace Fight Free Schools Program Working in 3 Grade Schools

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Officials Tout Plan for Peace Fight Free Schools Program Working in 3 Grade Schools

Article excerpt

Fist-fights, name-calling and school suspensions have declined in three elementary schools in the Kirkwood School District since they joined the Fight Free Schools program.

"Our children are learning that they don't have to resort to physical violence," said Pam Stanfield, principal of Westchester Elementary School. "No matter what the problem is, it can be solved with words."

Stanfield and Virginia Sapp, principal of Keysor Elementary School, told the Kirkwood School Board recently that they have been pleased with the results from the first three months of participation. The program is also offered at Tillman Elementary School.

"When you see a kid that normally would pop someone instead say, `We need to talk about this,' you know you're making improvement," Stanfield said.

Sapp said she heard about the program while listening to a radio interview with Margaret R. Dolan, principal of McNair Elementary School in the Hazelwood School District. Dolan started the Fight Free Schools program at McNair last year.

Fight Free Schools is also supported by St. Louis County Executive George R. "Buzz" Westfall, said Judy Kamper, interim assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

The program's brochure carries this message from Westfall: "As a former prosecuting attorney, I am aware that crime stems from violent behavior that is not addressed. If family values have deteriorated so that respect is not taught in the home, then our schools must have mechanisms to maintain order in an atmosphere conducive to study."

Sapp said the program is a bonus for Kirkwood pupils because it builds on the conflict resolution and mediation exercises that are in place in the district. Daily records are kept to chart the progress of individual classrooms as well as the entire school.

Sapp said the program has also helped in the identification of repeat offenders. …

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