Written by PETER KUEBECK Sentinel Staff Writer
Monday, 13 February 2012 11:03
ROSSFORD - The experience and techniques of dealing with bullying were presented to district students Friday not through a lecture or a film strip, but through a play.
|Dotty Morris, left, and Emily Cuprys, playing the role of mom, during play on bullying at Indian Hills school. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
The play, "New Canadian Kid", written by Dennis Koon, and performed by students from the Rossford High School Drama Club, explores issues of bullying in a school setting. In the production the main character, Nick, and his family, move from the fictional nation of "Homeland" to Canada, where he has to deal with a number of issues, including making new friends and dealing with bullying.
The play, presented throughout the district Friday is also scheduled to be performed at the Educational Theater Association's State Theater Conference at Centerville High School in March.
Throughout the production, the "Canadian" children speak a form of gibberish, simulating the bewilderment "Nick", played by Justin Maluchnik, feels in his new environment.
"Remember," his mother, played by Emily Cuprys tells him, "you're as strange to them as they are to you."
He eventually befriends "Mencha," played by Dotty Morris, but runs afoul of "Mog," a bully played by Steve Everitt, who even goes so far as to write offensive graffiti on Nick's home.
"Every chance he'd get he'd call me names," Nick laments to the audience at one point.
"I've dealt with bullies before," he tells his mother. "They're everywhere. Even Homeland. Picking on people is an international sport."
Eventually, Nick learns to deal with Mog, both by himself and with the help of Mencha.
"Sometimes we just ignored him. And sometimes we just stood up to him," he says.
By the end of the play, Nick and Mog have arrived, at least, at a little understanding.
While the play and the performances were often humorous, the message was a serious one.
"I think it's very typical of the kind of bullying going on worldwide, not just in our country," said Holly Schmidbauer, principal of Indian Hills Elementary School, one of the sites for Friday's performances. Each classroom was given a study guide to go along with the play, and break-out discussions in each classroom were to be held to talk about what the students saw.
Rossford is among a number of school districts in the area that are working on recognizing and preventing bullying behavior - a subject that has grabbed headlines and garnered national attention following much-publicized incidents of hazing and cyberbullying that, in some cases, have cost the lives of young people across the country.
As with the Perrysburg, Lake, and North Baltimore districts, Schmidbauer said that Rossford is implementing the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, developed by Dr. Dan Olweus of the University of Bergen's Research Center for Health Promotion in Norway, and noted as "the most researched and best-known bullying prevention program available today." The program involves not only students and their classrooms, but also their communities in the anti-bullying effort on a number of levels.
Indian Hills itself is utilizing what they call a "Pride Matrix," a system of expectations in the school that is expected to stop bullying behavior from happening.
Schmidbauer said that the play was a great opportunity for grade schoolers to see high school students that they look up to act out the bullying incidents and how to deal with them.