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Anti-bullying Initiative at RJK Focuses on Kindness and Compassion

May 22, 2012RJK

“Little things can make a big difference. They can change a life,” said Robert J. Kaiser Middle School eighth-grader Loren Regelski to her schoolmates during a recent anti-bullying event. “We should be kind to each other, not mean.”

That message was repeated many times during the morning as disc jockeys from Thunder 102 FM broadcasted their radio show from the middle school’s lobby.

“Bullying can have a catastrophic effect on a child,” said Sullivan County Sheriff Mike Schiff, who was one of the guest speakers on the Ciliberto & Friends morning show. “Kids can get depressed or suicidal from constant bullying. They can also get involved with gangs to help make the bullying stop. This is a complex issue that can manifest itself in a variety of negative ways.”

That is one of the reasons why the school’s DARE program now includes teaching students about cyber crimes and anti-bullying in addition to drug and alcohol prevention.

After the radio broadcast concluded, Sullivan County District Attorney Jim Farrell addressed the RJK students in a school-wideRJK assembly. He began by having students self-reflect on their own way of being when they see someone who is different.

During his anti-bullying presentation he showed a series of photos under a headline that read, “Please don’t laugh at me.” The images that flashed on the large white screen included one of a child with thick-framed glasses, a young girl with braces on her teeth and a blonde-haired little girl whose features included those associated with Down syndrome. Many of the RJK students giggled and laughed as the slideshow played.

“Why are you laughing,” said Mr. Farrell in a tone of voice that elicited immediate silence. “Do you think having Down syndrome is funny?”

It was clear that the power of his words impacted the hundreds of students sitting in the auditorium. Mr. Farrell then asked them if they knew the meaning of the word “compassion.” He noted that although 85 percent of students are not bullied, courageous young people are needed to do more than just stand by and do nothing to stop someone else from being hurt.

“Are you going to be a bystander or an up-stander?” asked Mr. Farrell. “You have the power to change your school. Are you brave enough to do it?”RJK

With the intensity of his presentation still lingering, the assembly continued with a heartfelt performance by Country Music star Matt Kennon, whose song “You Picked on Me” has been acclaimed as an anti-bullying anthem nationwide.

“This is real and change starts here,” said Mr. Kennon as he encouraged students to treat each other with kindness. “You can do this.”

He also encouraged the youngsters to use his song to create a school-wide anti-bullying video as a way to unite students for a positive cause.

Details about the video initiative are posted on his website at www.mattkennon.com

During his performance, Mr. Kennon also played one of his new songs titled "The Call." CLICK HERE to view his live performance. 

CLICK HERE to view the official song video of "The Call" on YouTube.

 

CLICK HERE to view the complete Photo Gallery from this event.

 

RJKPhotos: The Ciliberto & Friends morning show broadcast from the RJK Middle School lobby included anti-bullying commentary from a variety of guests. From left are DARE Officer Luis Alvarez, Sullivan County Sheriff Mike Schiff, RJK Principal Deborah Wood, Senator Bonacic representative Linda Cellini and radio hosts Michelle Semerano and Paul Ciliberto.

RJK sixth-grader Solomon Garrett gets an autograph from Country Music star Matt Kennon after his performance. Garrett expressed that although he never heard Mr. Kennon’s music before he was moved by the lyrics and is now a fan.

Sullivan County District Attorney Jim Farrell commends RJK eighth-grader Jamal George for being kind and caring. Mr. Farrell witnessed Jamal stand at the auditorium entrance and welcome hundreds of his classmates to the assembly.

RJK student Loren Regelski speaks to her schoolmates about the need to treat each other with kindness and compassion.