Thursday, November 15, 2012

Holly Middle School Students Learn about Bullying from Theatre Group

Holly Middle School students get the “Word” on bullying

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Written by Janet Leslie
Thursday, November 15 2012
Linda Skrzynski
HOLLY, Michigan – During a school-wide assembly this week, Holly Middle School students got a lesson on bullying, and more importantly, the school district’s zero tolerance policy for anyone caught in the act.

The bullying program, entitled “Word,” is a production of the Jewish Ensemble Theatre (JET) of West Bloomfield, the nation’s longest-running Jewish theater group. The program dramatizes an incident of bullying from the perspective of three students: the bully, the victim, and a witness, as they relate their individual stories to a school counselor. HMS principal Linda Skrzynski said she selected the program based on its reputation for quality and ability to engage students with relatable scenarios.

Tuesday’s presentation, however, presented an unusual dilemma when one of the scheduled actors failed to arrive on time.

And though Skrzynski planned every detail of the assembly, including instructing the students on proper audience etiquette immediately before the show, there were no contingency plans for a missing actor. Due to a very full school calendar, Skrzynski quickly dismissed the idea of rescheduling the show and instead began to name off several teachers who might easily step into a role for which they had not prepared. Within minutes, language arts teacher Tracey Pinch strolled into the auditorium and onto the stage to take the role of the bullying bystander.
Students ask questions followi...

After the presentation, students were invited to discuss what they had seen with the actors themselves. Some challenged the troupe’s choices, asking, “Why was it a football player that was portrayed as a bully?” and, “Would you ever rewrite the play so that the kid stands up to the bully?”

After returning to their classrooms students signed an anti-bullying pledge and each received a card with the pledge printed on it to wear on their lanyards with their student identification cards. The pledge is as follows:

“I pledge to think more about the words I use. I will try to be aware of how my words can hurt people – even myself. I will try to replace words that hurt with words that encourage.
I will not become discouraged when I am unable to choose words perfectly because making the world a better place is hard work. I am pledging to do that, one word at at time.”

Tuesday’s program is part of a larger Holly Middle School initiative in response to the district’s new bullying policy, put into effect by action of the Board of Education earlier this year. Other activities have included a cyber-bullying presentation held at the middle school’s Open House, and in-service education for teachers and support staff alike. “We believe in educating before issuing consequences,” Skrzynski said.