A message on the power of words delivered by professional motivational speaker Mark Brown last December has proved inspirational for one group of Bonny Eagle Junior High School students.

The school’s Civil Rights Team and Drama Club recently wrapped several anti-bully video clips detailing various incarnations of peer pressure and harassment that may occur in school hallways, classrooms, lunchrooms and gymnasiums all across the world. And, since Internet sites like MySpace and Facebook are a big part of the popular culture, cyber bullying also is featured.

The effort was begun, under the direction of adviser Natalie Harmon, after Brown visited the school to give the talk “Words Count: Put Your Best Word Forward.”

Harmon contacted the school’s Drama Director Stephanie Melaugh to get her drama students on board.

Melaugh said students began meeting after school to develop skits. Those vignettes written and acted out by students detail subtle ways that bullying and discrimination can manifest, both in the way messages are communicated and received among peers. Each scenario includes helpful ways to diffuse uncomfortable situations .

“(Students) looked at a lot of different scenarios and talked about ways kids act or behave in school as developing and emerging adolescents,” said Melaugh. “Then, they came up with a myriad of approaches for (portraying them). Every video clip ends with a positive message that goes right back to the inspirational message Mark gave. He spoke to the student body about being conscious of their words and the impact they have on others and how they may want to be remembered 37 years from now. It’s a theme that really hooked the kids.”

The youth have since filmed five of the character-modeling videos. They were videotaped by staffer Linda Linnell. One scene in the school cafeteria, details embracing differences among peers. In the four-minute dramatization, students are dressed in flamboyant hats and enjoying lunch when another student, wearing a considerably more conservative hat approaches the table to sit down. The socializing ends, as one-by-one, the original diners abandon the table, save for one individual, who pauses, takes off his hat and returns to share a meal with the lonely student. The other diners follow his example and return to share a meal.

The scene serves as the perfect example of the message these teens are trying to convey: that one act of kindness, performed by one person, can make a world of difference.

The videos are being screened during the school’s morning news show for the entire student body to see.

“For me, this was a meaningful and proactive project,” said Melaugh. “We have a positive school environment here and this project re-enforces that. The message students heard in December did not get lost as the school year continued. Rather, it continued to echo Brown’s sentiments.”


Staff Writer Deborah Sayer can be contacted at 791-6308 or at:

[email protected]


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