On Friday, October 19, Dr. Sam Staley ’80 led a presentation followed by a book launch and signing for the second in his “Path of the Warrior” young adult fiction series, Renegade. The series follows the middle school main characters as violent changes to their school environments collide with the “peaceful warrior” philosophies of martial arts. Staley’s presentation at the Stephen K. Hayes Quest Center for Martial Arts occurred in conjunction with the Black Belt Graduation Ceremony and as a key note event for National Bullying Prevention Month.
“Recognizing the violence is not to endorse the violence,” said Staley. “It is to know that it exists, and while there is great goodness in the world, there is also pain.” Staley described the experience of his main character Maria as the context of her environment changes dramatically due to gang violence. Parallels were made to the plights of children who have been bullied–physically, socially, and emotionally.
Staley’s presentation also featured a poem read by a martial arts student who has personally experienced bullying. Her experience provided inspiration for Staley’s work, and she also signed books with Staley after the event. During question and answer, audience members discussed how awareness connected to a sensitivity to the environment can increase awareness of bullying and school violence before it presents.
“Violence always loses, and forgiveness defines character,” said Staley. Character education is fundamental to a full-scope educational experience and essential during the formative years of middle and upper school. The SKH Quest Center was selected for the launch due to the holistic influence of martial arts on living “fully, fearlessly, and freely.” Founder Stephen K. Hayes introduced the sync between lifestyle and martial arts to MVS through a 2012 Immersion experience.
The federal resource center for bullying prevention, StopBullying.gov, has developed a comprehensive bully prevention program for schools that hinges on four key points:
- Help kids understand bullying. Talk about what bullying is and how to stand up to it safely. Tell kids bullying is unacceptable. Make sure kids know how to get help, and ensure a comfortable, approachable network of adults available for support.
- Keep the lines of communication open. Check in with kids often. Listen to them. Know their friends, ask about school, and understand their concerns. Engage students in honest, open conversations with one another, and develop active listening practices among all members of the community.
- Encourage kids to do what they love. Special activities, interests, and hobbies can boost confidence, help kids make friends, and protect them from bullying behavior. Maintain goals of keeping children happy, confident, and successful learners.
- Intentionally create a culture of tolerance and acceptance. Model how to treat others with kindness and respect. Define and demonstrate common core values of character that are intrinsic to the culture of school and able to be practiced at home. Develop leadership through service and respect.
Click on the covers below to look inside Staley’s “Path of the Warrior” series in A Warrior’s Soul and Renegade or browse his earlier work, The Pirate of Panther Bay.