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Anti-bullying message takes stage

NATCHEZ — Cathedral students in grades four through eight took home a lesson in unity from an anti-bullying program performed Friday by juniors and seniors of the Mississippi School of Arts.

Scenarios of the bullied and bullies were presented to students in a seamless production of theater, dance, literature and singing.

“These juniors and seniors live, breathe and eat their art form,” said Tammy Stanford Williams, director of the dance department at the arts school.

“Some things you will hear and see today are funny, but when you think about it twice, it’s not so funny,” Williams said. “It’s OK to react, but contemplate. Many times we laugh because we don’t understand what happened. Today won’t be your typical anti-bullying performance. It’s supposed to engage you, entertain you and get you thinking.”

The presentation was called “Clique.”

Brain Stokes, who narrated the performance, said bullying is a powerful thing.

“But if you have unity, you won’t have bullying,” he said.

The students watched and listened intently, and asked thoughtful questions at the end. A few of the questions were met with theatrical improvisations by the arts students. Other questions were directed at the performers themselves.

Students took an anti-bullying pledge before dismissal, promising to never isolate, exclude, mock or humiliate others.

Williams said the purpose of “Clique,” besides encouraging unity, is to vividly express situations that might evoke change.

“Studies show that in a unified group, there is no opportunity for bullying to take place,” Williams said.

Seventh-and-eighth-grade teacher Lashon Brown said the school keeps the subject of bullying in the student dialogue with special programs and class discussion every year.

“Bullying goes on, and there is a lot we don’t see as teachers, but we try,” Brown said.

“We tell students that it’s OK to tell on someone, it’s not like being a tattletale. We tell them, ‘If someone is hurting you or saying things to hurt you, that’s when you tell.’”

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