Barnegat Schools Honor Some ‘Upstanding’ Students

Oct 03, 2018

The Barnegat Township School District announced the first six recognition awards for the Upstander initiative in which students are encouraged to be the best versions of themselves, creating a positive community that lifts others up instead of putting them down.

“The Upstander program gets its name because it is the opposite of a bystander,” said Leah Purpuri, district supervisor of guidance. “The bystander sees something, but instead of doing something, he just stands around and does nothing. The upstander will try to do something and help.”

She said examples of deeds to be rewarded could be anything from standing up for someone who is being bullied to doing acts of kindness such as opening doors for people. Every month, one student from each school will be recognized.

“The youngsters can show traits such as compassion, trustworthiness, advocacy, integrity and positivity,” Purpuri said. “The whole concept is to discourage negative behaviors and also provide a safe environment for learning.”

The students were nominated by their respective school building’s administrative and counseling staff. Each received a $50 gift certificate to Dolce Bagel.

“We are bringing back the idea of a family meal and family togetherness,” she said.

The winner from the high school was Madison Payer. The senior is a student representative to the board of education. She spoke at the ninth-grade orientation over the summer and organized students to assist incoming freshmen at the event.

“She diligently fundraises for the school through student government,” the board said in the presentation. “In addition, she starts off the day as the voice of morning announcements. Barnegat High School would not be the same without her.”

Christopher Dringus was the recipient from the Russell Brackman Middle School. The sixth-grader was recognized for taking a leadership role in team building activities during the first three days of school.

“He also talked to other students who were quiet or uneasy in socializing to make them feel as comfortable as possible,” the board said. “His great attitude and willingness to help made the activity a success.”  

The four winners from the elementary schools were Molly Ryan, Julia Becker, Michael Buono and Carson Abbato.

The board said Ryan, a fifth-grader at the Cecil Collins Elementary School, has a “character of harmony.”  She was witnessed being kind and compassionate to a kindergartener who was struggling emotionally on his first day of school.

Becker, who is a fourth-grader at the Joseph Donahue Elementary School, helped soothe the feelings of a classmate who was distressed because of a disagreement with one of her best friends.

A kindergarten student at the Lillian Dunfee Elementary School, Buono reached out to a student who said he was upset because he believed he did not have anyone to play with.  

“Immediately, Michael invited the student to join him and his friends in playing a game,” the board said. “The other student smiled and ran off to enjoy recess with his new friends. Michael’s impact can already be seen as a kindergartener.”

Abbato, who is in fourth grade at the Robert Horbelt Elementary School, was cited as being a ”very respectful student who always follows the rules and has excellent grades.”

“What makes him an Upstander student is that he always includes students to play games at recess, which we believe displays great character and leadership abilities.”

— Eric Englund           

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