Donation helps Marysville police continue fight against school bullying

MARYSVILLE – Marysville police got a boost Wednesday in their continuing fight to battle bullying and suicide in local schools with an almost $31,600 donation.

The money comes from a fund set up 4 1/2 years ago after the deadly shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School. The Marysville Rotary Club’s Education Foundation started the Recovery Fund and received large and small donations and grants from individuals and businesses like Boeing.

The money paid for things like graveside markers for most of the victims, tulips at M-P, speakers and more. Gayl Spilman of the foundation said they have been looking the past two years trying to find something to donate the rest of their funds to. They were looking for something more than the “one and done kind of thing.”

“Motivational speakers are great for the moment, but not for the long term,” she said. “It’s rah, rah, rah but three months later” people forget.

By donating it to the police department, the funds will be spent on ongoing efforts with their school resource officers.

Sgt. Rick Sparr, who supervises the SROs, said they give presentations to classes on bullying and other issues. They also are involved with counseling students and working with staff on things to watch out for when dealing with student problems. This summer they plan to teach similar messages in some of the city’s summer camps.

Daryn Bundy of the Rotary added that they hope to expand to Lakewood schools.

“That’s huge for us. It can touch more kids,” he said.

Cmdr. Mark Thomas, who oversees the SRO program, said the entire effort is about “branding a safe environment. We want to drive bullying down to zero.”

He said the donation is coming at a great time because funds raised a few years ago when the effort first started are running out.

That money was raised in 2016 when SROs Chris Sutherland and Jeremy Wood went around the community asking for donations for an anti-bullying campaign.

With some of the money they brought in inspirational speakers Marc Mero, a former professional wrestler, and Amy Briggs, a teacher whose son committed suicide after being bullied. They spoke at local middle and high schools, along with at a public event at the Tulalip Resort Casino.

Police want to bring back Mero next fall so “we can continue that message throughout the school year,” Thomas said.