Lucy Guan, left, Alina Shakirova, Anastasia Soltes and Emily Holmes of the UNBC women's basketball team take part in Ecole Heather Park Elementary's WITS assembly. Here, Emily Holmes answers a question from vice principal Dave Holmes, who doubles as her dad.

Constables Arsh Grewal, left, and Mark Macapinlac of the Prince George RCMP speak to Heather Park students during the WITS assembly.

A Heather Park "Big Buddy" presents a Kindergarten student with a WITS badge.

The newly-deputized student examines her badge.

Marshmallows drizzled with chocolate syrup were part of a Minute to Win It challenge at Ecole Heather Park's WITS assembly.

UNBC basketball players Alina Shakirova, left, Anastasia Soltes, Emily Holmes and Lucy Guan prepare for the sticky Minute to Win It challenge. 

Emily Holmes takes a moment after getting through the Minute to Win It challenge without too much damage. 

Lucy Guan and two of her Heather Park teammates pose with the shiny prize after winning the Minute to Win It challenge.

Heather Park students get help renewing WITS vows

Some special guests at Ecole Heather Park Elementary helped reinforce for students the importance of using their WITS.

Four members of the UNBC Timberwolves women’s basketball team and two Prince George RCMP constables participated in a school-wide assembly on Monday. The purpose of the gathering was for students to renew their WITS vows and to bring the school’s Kindergarten kids into the WITS fold.

WITS, a bullying prevention program that is utilized in elementary schools across Canada, stands for Walk Away, Ignore It, Talk it Out, Seek Help. This is the second year of Heather Park’s involvement.

During the assembly, the UNBC basketball players answered questions from Heather Park vice principal Dave Holmes about how they use their WITS when they’re on the court. Lucy Guan, Alina Shakirova, Anastasia Soltes and Emily Holmes (Dave Holmes’ daughter) all gave examples and turned the exchange into a relatable learning experience for their attentive audience.

When asked how she would use her WITS to handle a situation in which an opponent was “talking trash” to try to get under her skin, Guan answered: “I think a really important thing to do is definitely to ignore it, not to escalate the situation. Other than ignoring it, I could also walk away. And if it gets really out of hand, I could seek help from the referees and let them know what’s going on.”

Constables Mark Macapinlac and Arsh Grewal were among those listening to the words of wisdom from the basketball players and highlighted the importance of their messages. Macapinlac and Grewal also demonstrated an “official” WITS handshake for the students and showed them how they would properly salute a commanding officer if they were in the RCMP.

Led by their vice principal, students recited their WITS vows together and the “Big Buddies” of the Kindergarteners deputized the youngsters into Heather Park’s WITS program.

The assembly came to a sticky and fun conclusion when selected students and the UNBC basketball players participated in a Minute to Win It challenge that involved marshmallows slathered in chocolate syrup. In the challenge, the four players sat in a line of chairs at the front of the gym and donned plastic sheets, shower caps and safety glasses. Each player – a team captain essentially – then had to use her mouth to try to catch marshmallows lobbed by her students. The team with the highest number of catches in 60 seconds was declared the winner.

Guan’s group finished with an unbeatable five catches.

For the Heather Park student population, the morning was loaded with value.

“I think the kids learned that they’re part of a school community where they support each other,” said vice principal Holmes. “For us, our WITS program is a big part of that support where we have our senior students taking the lead and supporting our younger kids making healthy choices so that they learn to resolve problems in a peaceful, safe, caring way so we can all continue to have fun and celebrate being students here at the school together.”

The Heather Park VP appreciated the support shown by the Prince George RCMP and the UNBC players.

“It’s wonderful to have community coming together, particularly our RCMP who are busy people helping our community,” he said. “It’s nice for our student body to have their presence here, teaching us how to salute and taking our WITS as seriously as we need to take it.

“With our UNBC athletes it’s another perfect example of all of us together taking care of each other and helping each other out.”

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