SPRING HILL -- Sean Sexton does not want bullying to have any place at Springstead High School.
He handles in-school suspensions and frequently asks his students if bullying may have, in some way, played a part in the students being in his room.
Sexton suggests students might end up in ISS for skipping classes because they have been trying to avoid bullies. "I think it's part of my responsibility that it's not accepted," he said.
"Bullying," said Sexton, 55, "takes a number of forms" such as name calling and cyber bullying.
Another of Sexton's interests is the Tampa Bay Lightning. He's a big hockey fan, and found himself late last school year in a chat with the CEO of that team, Tod Leiweke. They discussed the similarities of building a strong culture in a community and a school. They talked about respect, conflict resolution and bullying.
"He asked me if any of our students would be interested in partnering with the Lightning on an anti-bullying campaign," Sexton said.
Sexton jumped at the chance.
He approached the Springstead Gay/Straight Alliance Group, sponsored by English teacher Kathleen Long, because of the group's work toward tolerance, diversity and respect. Leiweke hosted 12 members at a Lightning game.
"He gave us an hour of his time before the game started," Sexton said. They brainstormed about how the team could help the school.
"We started an anti-bullying campaign here." Sexton said.
The guidance department suggested students sign "the Dr. Phil anti-bullying pledge," he said.
The goal was set at 100 percent of the students signing. The Lightning offered prizes to support the pledge drive, which became a competition among the four class levels. The first class to get 100 percent was the junior class, whose class sponsor is office secretary Nilsa Toro.
They were treated to breakfast Sept. 26 with Leiweke, provided by the International House of Pancakes at Springstead.
"She was just great in motivating her students in the signing of the pledge and getting the business sponsors for the breakfast," Sexton said of Toro.
At the breakfast, two names were pulled from the junior class members to attend a Lightning game, each with a guest, in the owner's suite.
Another part of the anti-bullying campaign, a very big part, was that selected Springstead students would appear with Lightning star, Steven Stamkos, to film a public service anti-bullying announcement that will be shown at 20 games throughout the season.
The PSA will be shot on Nov. 4 and all the students are invited to see the Chicago Blackhawks play the Lightning.
"So we'll all enjoy the game and hopefully a good thing will come of it," Sexton said. "We want all the schools in the Tampa Bay area to start building anti-bullying campaigns."
There is now a Springstead High anti-bullying club, sponsored by reading teacher Karen Wilcox and open to all students.