Southern Regional Board of Education Gets First Look at New Middle School Social Media Campaign

Jan 10, 2018

Before the Southern Regional Board of Education reorganized and took on its first official business of the new year, the district’s middle school principal gave the board a sneak peek at a program soon to be rolled out amid her student body.

“We have high hopes for this program,” said Dr. Elisabeth Brahn. “We hope it’s going to prevent mistakes that sometimes can carry very substantial or long-term consequences for something never intended in the first place.”

The program has been dubbed “Pause Before You Post,” and it’s the latest effort in attempting to get students to grasp the potential problems of certain text or social media messages – namely those that cast a negative personification of an individual’s character and the damage those forever-present messages can generate when seeking college entrance or employment.

“One of everyone’s challenges today is trying to educate teens about the appropriate use of social media,” said Brahn, who explained the new program will be launched during a two-week stretch in February. “The negative uses and consequences are often in the news, and we know it’s a challenge for our students from time to time. Because of this, we already have lots of things in our curriculum to address it. But we need to do more.”

At the outset of the presentation, Superintendent Craig Henry detailed for the board how a recent incident within the district in early December led to a text-message discussion between him and Brahn. The next day, Brahn and multiple members of the middle school’s administrative crew – Mike Concilio, Brian Zatorski, Bob Schoka and Barbara McHale – met to devise a plan that “would systemically address the issue” and brought their plan to Henry for approval.

“This administrative team took what was me venting through a text and the next day created this, and I know it’s going to be successful,” Henry said. “I can’t comment them enough.”

During the presentation, Concilio explained to the board that the “Pause Before You Post” program will include a series of posters in hallways and classrooms, stickers with the program logo that will be put on all electronic devices, bookmarks also bearing the logo and message, and short, student-created public-service announcements that will be delivered through videos and morning announcements.

“Every time a student opens up a Chromebook, they’re going to see the Pause Before You Post logo, and they’re going to have smaller stickers to put on their own personal devices, just to reiterate the message to them,” Concilio said. “It’s an easy message, but we really hope it resonates with them. And with the public-service announcements, we’re trying to hit home the point that, once you submit, it could be a life-altering situation, and that it can be something that sticks with you forever.”

Zatorski presented the first PSA video, utilizing four student actors to deliver several easy-to-understand messages, including: “Anything you text or post will follow you around forever ... your texts are as confidential as the billboard on Route 72.”

Following the presentation, the board conducted its reorganization duties by swearing in the three members – Heather Tatur, Thomas Serpico and Stuart Snyder – re-elected this past November, and selecting Steve Berkheiser as board president, replacing Kevin Lyons, and Scott Waters as board vice president, replacing Tatur.

— David Biggy

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