The Swearing-In Ceremony
The Swearing-In Ceremony, a 30-minute assembly involving all students in Kindergarten to Grade 3, generally takes place in September or early October. In this special assembly, students recite a WITS oath, receive a WITS badge and are deputized as WITS Special Constables.
The ceremony is led by community leaders, in cooperation with school teachers and administrators, and is designed to introduce the WITS acronym to students. The ceremony consists of five parts, outlined to the right. Click on the links for a more detailed description of each part.
Learn more by watching video of a Swearing-In Ceremony conducted by RCMP Constable Julie Chanin.
Community leaders should begin the Swearing-In Ceremony by introducing themselves and briefly explaining their role in the community.
They should then explain what the WITS acronym stands for. Some children may have already been introduced to the WITS Program, so inviting them to describe what each of the letters stands for can help encourage engagement.
Community leaders should then explain why WITS is important to them, giving examples of how they have used WITS strategies in their role in the community.
Finally, the community leaders should outline the parts of the Swearing-In Ceremony that students are about to participate in.
Walrus’s Gift is a story about a young walrus who helps a human child deal with teasing and being left out. Some schools may be able to provide access to a laptop and digital projector so that the story’s images can be projected on a large screen for students to follow along as the story is read.
To find out more information about the story and download a pdf version, click here. WITS Programs schools should also have a copy of the Walrus’s Gift book in their WITS Resource Centre.
After reading the story, community leaders may want to initiate a brief discussion with students about the characters and how they responded to conflicts in the story. Click here for examples of some post-reading questions.
Once the story is read, the official Swearing-In Ceremony begins. In preparation for their deputization, students are taught a few WITS Special Constables skills. Community leaders should demonstrate each of these skills to the students and then allow a brief time for them to practice with a partner.
- Stand at Attention – Stand up tall with feet together, arms straight and down by sides, shoulders back, chest out and chin up.
- Salute – The salute is always “long way up and short way down.” Stretch right arm out straight to the right, then bend at the elbow to bring hand to head. To finish the salute, bring hand straight down.
- Secret Handshake and Password – Extend right hand as for a handshake. Pretending to have a flipper instead of a hand, lightly tap right “flipper” on the inside of your partner’s right elbow. At the same time, say the secret password: “Huddy, huddy!” That’s walrus talk for “Hey, how ya doing?”
This is the most important part of becoming a WITS Special Constable. Students should stand at attention, place their right “flippers” over their hearts and repeat the following oath. Community leaders should read just a few short phrases at a time and then have the students repeat after them.
“I promise to use my WITS, to walk away, ignore, talk it out and seek help when I’m dealing with teasing and bullying. I promise to also help other kids use their WITS to keep my school and my community a safe and fun place to be and learn.”
Finally, the students are presented with their own badges, deputizing them as WITS Special Constables. It’s important to relate how exciting it is to become a new WITS Special Constable and to emphasize the responsibility that comes with the badge. All WITS Special Constables are expected to use their WITS when confronted with teasing and bullying.
Before each student receives a badge, he or she should demonstrate the WITS Special Constable skills. Community leaders should lead each student in standing at attention, saluting and offering the secret handshake and password before giving him or her the badge.
See how community leaders can use the WITS Walrus Puppet during the swearing in ceremony and classroom visits to help explain the fundamentals of WITS to students in an active and engaging way! The WITS Puppet can be used to talk and interact with students as well as be used for the secret handshake.
The WITS Puppet is proudly made locally in Canada and comes with a pillow attachment to turn it into a stuffed animal when not being used.
The Swearing-In Ceremony ends with an inspection of the new recruits as the students line up and walk back to their classes. Community leaders should remind students that they will return for school visits throughout the year to check up on how the new deputies are doing with their WITS.