By John Anderson
Bullying is of great concern for students, parents, educators, and all decent citizens. Acceptable behaviors have been redefined in recent years, and whether in person, on social media, or on the Internet, bullying is simply not going to be tolerated. The Auburn Public School District has made a commitment to educate students from kindergarten up and to properly deal with someone who bullies a student.
This spring, Bryn Mawr Principal Beth Chamberland was offered a performance from the TIGER Theatre at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. A $250 grant from the Chris Maki Foundation reduced the cost to about $500 that was paid from the Student Activity account. At the real cost of only a few dollars per student, this performance was well worth it.
TIGER stands for Theatre Integrating Guidance, Education, and Responsibility. The shows address different social issues using professional actors. Samuel Bennett, Kaoru Yano, Hannah Judas, Caralivia Levanti and Bartley Mullin presented “I’ve Got Your Back!” at Bryn Mawr. They used music, theatre and dance to get their messages across.
TIGER was also used for those messages:
T – Take action when someone needs your help; Treat others as you would like to be treated!
I – I can say “NO!” when others try to make me feel badly; If other kids are being mean, show them how is feels to be nice!
G – Get help when you or someone you know is in trouble; You can’t handle a bully all by yourself!
E – Empathy; Imagine what it’s like to be in another person’s shoes and show others how to be a good friend!
R – Respond with respect in your words and actions; Respect everyone’s differences!
A few students along with Kindergarten Teacher Linda Koneczny and Student Teacher Michelle Montville assisted the actors in some scenes. They played out both good and bad interactions, and the audience was engaged for the entire 45 minutes.
Principal Chamberland said she is always nervous about a new presentation, especially when all three grades are in the auditorium. By her observation, though, the attention of all the students never drifted. This could well be a program that should go district wide. The actors vary the programs depending on the ages of the audience.
At the end of the program, students were asked to recap the five main points, and they did it nearly flawlessly. To make these messages even stronger, each of the four classes of grade 2 students met for a workshop with one of the actors. This was also well received according to Chamberland.
A Tiger figure now sits in the school office to reinforce the anti-bullying message for students and faculty.