January 29, 2011

Middle-schoolers send strong anti-bullying message

Members of Londonderry Middle School’s new Anti-Bullying Club showed off some of the
student-made posters submitted over the past few days, as the school held its annual Respect Week. This year’s Respect Week featured lessons on bullying and its negative effects.
Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- Just be nice.
That’s the main message the 20 or so student members of Londonderry Middle School’s newly created Anti Bullying Club hope will resonate with their peers.
This past week marked the school’s Respect Week, a longtime annual tradition for students and staff members. While past Respect Weeks have followed similar themes such as peace, tolerance and diversity,
 this year the guidance department opted for an anti-bullying theme, as it offered an opportunity to educate children on the state’s new anti-bullying laws.
The law, which became effective Jan. 1, includes cyber bullying and school bus incidents in its definition of bullying, and dictates response tiers for the level of bullying, with disciplinary actions to be handled by school administration.
Guidance councilor Nancy Marston said such lessons are nothing new at the middle school, which has always taken a strong stance against bullying behaviors.
With themes such as Random Acts of Kindness Day and Talk To Someone New and Make A New Friend Day students throughout the school were encouraged to
 get hooked on reaching out to their peers. 

Daily intercom messages, featuring skits from Principal Richard Zacchilli and Assistant Principal Wendy Hastings, explained the new state laws using kid-friendly language. 
Students were also asked to create posters with an anti-bullying message. Winning posters will adorn each classroom for the rest of the school year. 
“The word of the week was respect,” Marston said. 
The Anti-Bullying Club was formed earlier this school year, after several seventh graders approached Zacchilli and guidance councilor Heather Newman in hopes of making a difference in their school community. Other classmates soon joined their efforts. The club currently has around 20 seventh grade members, and counting. 
“We didn’t like that our school was filled with bullies and bullying,” club member Anna Hickey said. 
Classmates Kylie Chisholm and Jordan Dufresne said they were originally inspired to take on the cause after watching a film on the work of Martin Luther King, Jr. 
“Respect Week teaches us to be nice, to do for others,” club member Hayley Peters added, while her classmate Aly Aramento decided to jump on board after watching a television news segment on the tragic consequences of bullying. 
“People have killed themselves because the bullying got so bad,” student Casey Daron said. “We just want to say, bullying is never OK.” 
His friend, Matt Hotchkiss, one of the club’s three male members, agreed. “I joined this club to show others that guys need to stand up to bullying as well as girls,” he said. 
On Friday afternoon, members of the club presented an educational video they’d created to the entire school, with students tuning in on televisions set up inside each classroom. 
The skit, which was based on the picture book, “One,” by Kathryn Otoshi, told the story of the color Blue, who was bullied by the color Red, and all the other colors remain silent. 
This all changes when One comes along, and stands up for poor Blue, saying “If someone is mean and picks on me, I, for One, stand up and say NO.” The moral of the story is that everyone matters, and sometimes, kindness begins with the actions of “one.” 
“I thought it was a good message,” eighth grader Haley Dumarsq said after watching the video. “All of us are different, and the same, at different times.” 
“It was really cool to see what happens when a person stands up,” classmate Elise Hennessey agreed. “You can really change how others act.” 

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