Boquet: We are all pieces of a puzzle

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 16, 2019

East St. John Preparatory Academy students had a special assignment from their counselor recently. Each student was asked to decorate a puzzle piece and then put them together to show how, even though we are all different, we all still fit together.

The project was one of many happening in our schools, and schools across the nation, during the month of October for National Bullying Prevention Month.

The point of this lesson was to show students that they should celebrate their differences instead of picking on others or tearing others down for being different.

Too often, those differences lead to bullying, which is defined as a pattern of gestures, written, electronic or verbal communication (threats, taunting, teasing or rumors either in person, online or by cell phone) or physical acts against a student or their property. These behaviors have the effect of creating an intimidating or threatening educational environment, substantially interfering with a student’s performance in school or substantially disrupting the orderly operation of the school.

This year, our schools have implemented a new anti-bullying curriculum. The Chicken Soup for the Soul program is being used in grades kindergarten through 8. The curriculum is an engaging approach to combat bullying with characters that are relatable to students.

School employees are required to participate in four hours of training to learn how to detect, prevent and end bullying but students and parents should always report instances of bullying to their school.

Puzzle pieces show how differences fit together at East St. John Preparatory Academy.

Any student who believes he has been, or is currently, the victim of bullying, hazing or a similar behavior, or any student, parent, or guardian who witnesses bullying, hazing or a similar behavior or has good reason to believe it is taking place, may report the situation to a school official. In turn, they will report the situation to the principal or a designee. A student, parent or guardian may also report concerns regarding bullying, hazing or a similar behavior to a teacher, counselor, other school employee or to any parent chaperoning or supervising a school function or activity. Any such report shall remain confidential.

National Bullying Prevention Month is sponsored by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, which offers resources for schools, parents and students at

East St. John Preparatory Academy Counselor Jennifer Russell said the goal of her puzzle piece lesson was to show students we all have something special to bring to the table and that if we stop to appreciate that then we can all get along and learn something from each other, and that’s a lesson we can all learn from.

Jennifer Boquet is communications specialist for St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools. She can be reached at