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Heritage theater students show younger kids methods to deal with bullies

Heritage Middle School eighth-grader Kaelee Eichorst said bullying in her sixth-grade year did not end until she finally moved to another school at the end of the year.

Posted: November 23, 2011 - 9:42pm  |  Updated: November 24, 2011 - 1:13am
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Students from Frenship Heritage Middle School perform a skit on bullying for Crestview Elementary Students on Tuesday.   Zach Long
Zach Long
Students from Frenship Heritage Middle School perform a skit on bullying for Crestview Elementary Students on Tuesday.
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Heritage Middle School eighth-grader Kaelee Eichorst said bullying in her sixth-grade year did not end until she finally moved to another school at the end of the year.

Kaelee said her mother encouraged her to talk to teachers and get help for the problem.

“I didn’t do anything,” she said. “I was afraid I’d get the name of a tattletale.”

Now as a theater student at HMS, she is one of several students putting on skits for students at Frenship elementary schools about how to deal with bullying.

Theater students from HMS presented two skits on bullying to students from Crestview Elementary School Tuesday morning.

In the first skit, Kaelee plays the role of a playground bully, pushing and kicking another student played by Robin Taylor.

Robin’s character eventually talks to her mother, who tells her to take a three-prong approach to the problem. First, give the bully “the look,” or a stink-eye that could scare off some bullies. Second, ask the bully to “please stop” while giving “the look.”

And finally, if the bullying continues, notify a teacher or adult at school who can help.

In the skit, Robin’s character eventually does have to involve a teacher, who, although lacking a cape, stepped in to save the day.

Kaelee said it’s these messages she wished she had heard as an elementary school student.

“It kinda made me feel good” to be involved in the skits, she said. “I wish I had saw it when I was little.”

Her co-star, Robin, said she was bullied in third grade, and step three of the skit, to notify a teacher, worked for her.

“I asked them to stop, and then the teacher helped me deal with it,” Robin said.

HMS theater teacher Jenna Athanasion said she has been working with FISD police Officer Scott Prothro, who had worked with high school drama students previously to bring similar bullying skits to middle schools.

Prothro said school police decided to work with theater students to be proactive about bullying problems and teach students how to deal with it.

Athanasion said students learn more sometimes from each other than from teachers, and this is especially true with older students teaching younger students.

“It grabs their attention a little bit more, hopefully,” Athanasion said.

Teachers have told her that the skits are exactly what their students need to hear.

The next skits are not scheduled until next semester, Athanasion said, but ultimately, the HMS theater students should be able to visit all Frenship elementary campuses.

Crestview Principal Stacy Davis said Frenship has policies to deal with bullying, and staff is required to look into situations even if they are just suspected. Parents are pulled in for talks before major situations erupt, she said.

Even with small children at Crestview, she said bullying can be a problem.

“It’s everywhere,” she said.

One tactic that teachers are using now is to tell students to loudly confront bullies, who will not want the attention, Davis said.

Before Crestview students watched the skits, she told them, “This is what goes on at Crestview all the time.”

But Davis said this year, principals and teachers are really cracking down on bullying.

“It’s really important that you hear this lesson,” she told the young students.

 

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