"Sometimes, even if you just turn around and smile at a person, it makes them feel like they matter," Medina said. Dozens of students packed into a classroom for the Stomp Out Bullying event, whena teacher called 16-year-old Anne X to the front of the room. Teachers had prepped the teen for what she was about to hear. The student held up a red paper heart. Boone said to the class that X was rude and asked the students if they had something to say to her. "You're totally useless," one student said and the teen ripped off a piece of her paper heart. Another classmate made another rude comment and tore another piece. One student asked, "Are we breaking her heart?" as classmates continued to read out notes not directed at AnneX, but that students and teachers hear every day at school, Boone said. AnneX said after ripping up her heart that it "sucks" hearing such negative comments. "It just makes you feels upset and mad all day," she said.
Boone asked the students how to mend a broken heart and prompted them to give Anne X compliments. "You're very pretty," one student said and AnneX started unfolding a red paper heart without tears. "Don't let what people say get to you because it's not true," a teen said and the student kept unfolding her "mended heart." When teacher Alexey Ledwith asked how many students had heard negative comments similar to the ones read out to X, almost every student held up their hand. When he asked about hearing positive comments, fewer teen raised their hands. "It's important to realize how many things in a day we say that are negative compared to positive," Ledwith said. "It gets out of hand."
The students watched two anti-bullying videos, then wrote positive messages on big balloons. Later on, students released the balloons into the air. Boone told the students Tthe activities were a good reminder to take care of each other. "We're gonna follow up on this," Boone said. "It's wonderful we're talking about bullying today. But it's gotta happen tomorrow. And it's gotta happen the next day."
Story Posted: 10/04/2011 12:00 AM Not available now. And all student names changed. Staff writer Katy Sweeny can be reached at 896-7760 or firstname.lastname@example.org.