Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hey Bulldog(s)

Blogger's Note: Once again, John Armato opens a door into the positive things happening in Pottstown public schools.

State Senator John Rafferty, R-44th Dist., paid a visit to Franklin Elementary School recently to recognize the members of the Bulldogs Club and its sponsor Mr. Mike DiDonato. 

Rafferty did not come empty-handed – he brought a generous helping of pizzas which the students shared at a classroom lunchtime visit with the senator. During lunch, the students outlined for Rafferty their future career aspirations which included a spectrum of jobs from doctor and lawyer to professional athlete. 

“I am glad to see that you all have career goals at such a young age and recognize that there is a great deal of work and effort that goes into achieving goal. I am even more impressed that each and every one of you had a backup plan if your first career option does not work out,” Rafferty said.

Rafferty’s visit was more than just an opportunity to share pizza with the students. He brought with him a certificate of accomplishment from the Senate of Pennsylvania which was presented to Mr. DiDonato. 

 In part it read, “You are to be commended for creating the Bulldog Program. This noteworthy program provides the students with excellent mentor and leadership training along with the opportunity to use these skills as they mentor younger students. Senator Rafferty does hereby recognize you for your commitment and dedication to the students as they strive to make a positive impact on their school and community.”

In describing the efforts of the Bulldog Program, DiDonato said, “It is a difficult time for kids. There are many obstacles and pitfalls in today’s society. The Bulldog Program gives these students a chance to be part of something positive. It gives them a chance to grow as a person and to strive for a bright future. We are so grateful that the First Presbyterian Church in Pottstown has given us the opportunity through their sponsorship to provide the Bulldog Program. This is a shining example of how community partnerships can have a positive and direct impact on our students. Their generosity and support makes a difference in the Pottstown community.”

The Bulldog Program was established in 2008 at Barth Elementary School. It is a leadership program designed to help at-risk children make positive choices and have an impact on their school culture and climate. 

Students are chosen for their leadership potential and must apply at the beginning of each school year. A panel of teachers and administrators choose which students will take part. 

After their selection, the students are given mentor and leadership training by the school psychologist/counselor and their Bulldog advisor. Students then begin mentoring younger students in grades kindergarten through third. They work in the classrooms assisting teachers and working with students. 

Every Wednesday, there is a Bulldog Club meeting where their mentoring experiences and reflection on the past week’s behaviors occurs. 

At this meeting, each student shares at least one thing that they have done to help someone else during the week. Other aspects of the program include field trips to Pottstown Cross-Fit to develop anti-bullying programs and reward events including a field trip to see a Philadelphia Sixers’ basketball game.

Gail Levengood also provides etiquette training which is put to good use at an end of year luncheon sponsored by First Presbyterian Church.

This year’s club members include: Tyveir Alexander, Tashon Dupiche, Zion Gadsden, Carlos Jackson, Takheim Lowe, Jorge Mundo, Jonathan Oister, Matthew Walker, Josiah Wiggins, and Jacob Wise.


  1. Is this program only for boys?

    1. There is a similar "Bees" program for 5th grade girls at Franklin headed up by Jeniffer Burkholder.