Ten-year-old Miles Brooks stood against a wall and described the meaning of bullying in front of classmate Tucker Treaster, who was taping the interview on an iPad.
Carley Beard, 10, then took a turn describing how students feel when they are bullied.
The Miles Township Elementary School fourth-graders were part of a class project with teacher Michele Shawver to film a skit about anti-bullying that will be played at a Christmas concert next month. It will then be posted on the Penns Valley Area School District website by Athletic and Community Relations Director Nate Althouse.
The mission, Shawver said, is to educate students and their families on what bullying is by combining four mini videos into one, with the hope that it sparks at-home discussions.
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“We’re teaching them to identify what bullying is and how to respond in a situation and assure parents that we’re on top of it by outreaching with our students,” Shawver said. “There have been a few instances, but we’re lucky to be in a small school that feels a little like a close-knit community.”
The fourth-graders, divided into four groups, answered five questions about bullying, then recorded and discussed the answers as a group.
Before the start of class almost every day, Shawver holds class meetings about the topic.
“We talk like four times a week, and I think it helps us understand not to be bullies and be a good example for other students,” Miles said. “I try to be nice and helpful to others.”
Miles has two younger sisters — Clara, 7, and Elena, 5 — who go to school with him.
“I want to make sure they can look up to me and not be a bully,” Miles said. “We don’t see bullying in our class, but we learn to define it as someone who uses their powers to unfairly treat another person a lot of times, and if we see something, not to be a bystander.”
Shawver said she encourages the kids to tell an adult at home and at school when a situation ensues, and the problem is taken care of “right away.”
“We’re fortunate that we’re in a school that is ahead of the situation, but we find bullying happens when there is less adult supervision,” Shawver said, adding that she tries to get both sides of the story and, if necessary, get Principal Danielle Yoder involved.
More than anything, the class project is a way to educate students and their families, and a way to spread awareness about bullying.
“We want to do anything we can to target this and make it an educational thing, as well,” Shawver said.
The project started last week during technology class with Kristen Albright, library media specialist and technology coach, who taught the students how to tape the skits using iMovie — an iPad app that allows users to film and edit home videos.
At the beginning of the year, every elementary school student in the district was provided with iPads for in-class use.
The project also fits in with the school’s mission to follow the three R’s — be ready, respectful and responsible.
“I remember them every day because the teachers do a good job to remind us,” Carley said.
Every six days, the class will work on finalizing the product during tech class with Albright.