GREEN RIVER — Once it was rare to find a household with a computer. Now young kids walk around with them in their pockets. As technology improves interconnectivity, it also increases the exposure to dangers, especially for younger users.
Green River Police Chief Tom Jarvie has watched threats develop over the years.
“With that development in technology came great and wonderful things, and at the same time opportunities for very bad things,” he said.
Jarvie has looked for programs and partners to help children use the internet safely. That is why he is encouraging the Sweetwater County School District No. 2 board of trustees to consider the Cyber S.W.A.T. program to increase online awareness and safety. If approved, Green River High School would join eight other schools in piloting the peer-to-peer mentoring program before a national rollout.
The Safe Surfin’ Foundation created Cyber S.W.A.T. to help youth navigate online communities safely, make positive choices and avoid unnecessary risks by educating students, teachers, and parents. About 45% of youth say they’re online nearly constantly, according to the presentation. Providing guidance and support can help them protect themselves and create stronger communities.
Under the proposal, school resource officers from the Green River Police Department would work with students in a club setting in free periods or after school. Participants are taught about internet dangers and trained to teach others. The goal is for the program to be student-led, since students are more likely to listen to and learn from their peers. Students would share what they’ve learned in presentations at schools. The club format allows more customization, and participants would be free to develop their own curriculum to meet the needs they identify in the district.
To help pilot the program, the SROs would work with the other schools that are in the program. This would help the students be part of something bigger.
GRHS Principal Darren Howard said he had been worried about finding time and student volunteers to continue the program, but the peer-driven focus eased his mind. He said teachers and officers would work more as facilitators as the students take the lead.
Superintendent Donna Little-Kaumo praised the high school for exploring the opportunity and added there’s value in “kids helping kids.”
She said she’s for anything that will save a child’s mental health or physical safety.
— Bradlee W. Skinner was recognized at the District Teacher of the Year. Superintendent Little-Kaumo wished him luck as he advances on to the state level.
— During public comments, multiple people said they were upset that the GRHS graduation did not acknowledge Brett Charles McKeehan, a senior who died before the ceremony.
His father, Steven Michael McKeehan, said he had asked for a friend of Brett to accept the diploma in his name, and was disappointed that there was no mention.
Steven McKeehan and others asked that a policy be established so friends and family know what to expect and to make sure no other students are “left out.”
To honor Brett and help his family and classmates grieve, they suggested establishing a scholarship, making a plaque, planting a tree, donating a bench by the tennis court or naming the court after him.
After they spoke, it was noted that the district has created a shadow box containing items highlighting Brett’s accomplishments that will be presented to the family.
— Nutrition Services Director Linda Martin, whose resignation was approved later in the meeting, addressed perceived criticism of the food services budget. She said it comprises less than 0.7% of the total budget but there is concern that the amount is too much. Martin said that is about equal to the amount the district spends on sports, but that no one questions that amount.
The district should consider what is important, she said. Not every student is an athlete, but every student needs to eat. For example, she said during the last 11 days in summer programs, they have served 4,340 meals, or about 395 a day. Martin said there is a need for the program, and she asked that the board support the person who takes over after she leaves.
— Following the example set by the Green River City Council, the school board voted to grant year-round employees a day off on July 5 to enjoy a four-day weekend.
— After an executive session, the board voted to approve the resignation of Spencer Bagshaw. Then trustees moved to end the meeting.