Westlake Middle Schoolers Say No to Bullying

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Lee Burneson Middle School eighth graders participated in a Unity Day Against Bullying on Oct. 30.

Language Arts teacher Deb Schrembeck’s students read the novel “Bullyville” by Francine Prose, the story of an eighth-grade boy who was bullied and the consequences for all involved. They also watched the non-fiction documentary “Bully.”

Out of the students’ anger and disappointment in how the characters in both works were treated, they planned a Unity Day. Students made more than 650 colorful, personalized positive message signs they then taped to every student locker. A handful of students made public service announcements during the morning and afternoon announcements and encouraged everyone to wear orange – the national color of anti-bullying – on Oct. 30.

Thanks to an LBMS PTA grant, the students released orange balloons from the middle school football field as a symbol of releasing the pain of bullying for all the silent victims. They also pledged to participate in NOW – Not on Our Watch – while bullying occurred.

Eighth graders are participating in research coordinated by school librarian Lynn Pettyjohn to learn about the pros and cons of bully prevention programs, then synthesize and apply best practices to create either a children’s book with a bully prevention theme or a theoretical bully prevention program of their own. The formal presentations will be graded, but students also will receive realistic feedback from administrators.

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