CHARLOTTESVILLE — Eastern Hancock High School students learning to be leaders have taken on the challenge of teaching younger students how to prevent bullying.

In its sixth year, the Royal Leadership Academy is teaching elementary-age students what bullying is, what it isn’t and how to put a stop to both rude behavior and bullying, said teacher Debbie Grass.

Throughout the month of September, 22 high school students visited elementary school classes and taught age-appropriate lessons about bullying, said elementary school guidance counselor Nathan Haffner.

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“One important aspect I include in the project is the difference between bullying and rude behavior,” Haffner said. “With rude behavior, we teach ways to handle it before it becomes bullying.”

Haffner said he’s been impressed with the high schoolers’ ability to take control of younger students and make the lessons engaging and powerful.

Grass started the Royal Leadership Academy, a one-semester course, in 2010 because she felt like extracurricular activities didn’t always teach leadership adequately, she said.

John C. Maxwell’s “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership,” a self-help book published in 1998, provides the basis of the leadership lessons she teaches, Grass said. Students are also tasked with coming up with a project to improve the school. In the past, they have built a bookstore, purchased new clocks and gone to the school board process to push for mobile phones to be allowed in school, Grass said.

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Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or