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Roosevelt to start Watch D.O.G.S. program

Leyman Tedford doles out high-fives and encouragement to every student he sees at Heart River Elementary School as one of its many Watch D.O.G.S. (Iain Woessner/The Dickinson Press)
Leyman Tedford doles out high-fives and encouragement to every student he sees at Heart River Elementary School as one of its many Watch D.O.G.S. (Iain Woessner/The Dickinson Press)

Roosevelt Elementary School will become the second in its school district to implement the Watch D.O.G.S. program.

The program, which stands for Dads of Great Students, is a nationwide program that brings fathers and father figures into the school to volunteer.

Principal Henry Mack describes the program as a sort of anti-bullying program.

"It’s kind of a non-bullying program in that they walk around and will intervene if they see any type of bullying behavior. They don’t provide consequences, but they certainly step in and stop it and get supervisors or myself involved," he said.

Parent Andrew Kordonowy approached Mack about starting the program when his daughter transferred from Heart River Elementary — the first school in the district to start the program — to Roosevelt Elementary. He volunteered 2-3 times a year for the program.

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"I enjoyed doing it. It gets father figures into the school, which is a little bit harder to achieve sometimes. I get to spend time with the kids, and overall (it gives) the sense of (the) community participating in different events doing what we can," he said.

Kordonowy started sharing the idea with others after an incident at the middle school last year in which rumors had parents afraid of a shooting threat.

"I had talked to some of the parents about the Watch D.O.G.S. ... program after the middle school event when people were being receptive towards what they could do as a community to help secure their children on site, what they could do themselves," he said.

The principal of Berg Elementary had reached out to him, and he addressed their PAC.

Kordonowy said the active participation helps alleviate some of parents' fears.

"One of the biggest things (causing) fear of leaving your child behind at school is you don’t know what’s going on," he said. "If you’re an active participant there volunteering your time for their safety and the well being of all the kids, you have more control over it. It’s better cohesion between the parents and the school ... and it also alleviates some of the fears that come with not knowing."

All that's required of father figures to participate is a willingness to volunteer and the completion of a background check.

The school will have its first recruiting event, a pizza night, for the program on November 20 at 5:45 pm in the lunchroom.

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"We’re being optimistic. We’re hoping we can get 20 dads signed up, which would be a good number. I think the goal is to try to get them to volunteer one day, maybe two days," Mack said.

Kayla Henson is a former Dickinson Press reporter.
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