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Posted on Dec 11, 2014

Stomping out bullying: Student-led video tackles teasing

For the second straight year, students in Vicki Edwards’ Monument Elementary School enrichment class tackled the issue of bullying in two minutes or less.

Last year her fifth-grade students had an eye-opening experience, working with professional videographer Mike Feurstein. The enrichment students worked in front of the camera and behind the scenes as actors, directors and everything in between.

The public service announcement they produced last year was about being a bully on the playground. This year the same students went in a different direction and decided to tackle teasing, which is more of a daily occurrence, they say.

“They were a little faster, because they had the experience,” said Edwards, a third-year enrichment teacher. “They wanted it to look more realistic – peer teasing peer.”

The idea was sparked by Feurstein, the How to Unmake a Bully project creator and founder. But the class stepped up and ran with it.

“He had an idea and we came up with ideas off that idea,” said sixth-grader Jane Kennedy.

The students eventually landed on an idea where several boys teased their friend about studying with a girl and calling her his girlfriend. Then the idea was put into action.

This is where Feurstein brings his professional touch and expertise to the project. He stands behind the scenes, guiding students through the process while allowing them to have a hands-on experience.

“They do everything,” Edwards said. “He just talks them though it.”

The whole project took a week, with a full day spent on filming.

“It takes the whole day to film 60-90 seconds,” Edwards said. “Every kid had a role. It’s so neat.”

For some students, the project offered a chance to see both sides of the camera. Last year, Kennedy was a bully.

“I wanted to be an actress,” she said. “They drew names out of a hat and I had to be a bully. It’s kind of hard, but it’s pretty fun.”

This year, Kennedy tackled a job with more duties. She took on the role of LGM, or lights, grip, management to those in the business.

“I remember waiting a lot last year, and the behind-the-scenes (people) got to do all that work.” Kennedy said.

This year the two main actors were AJ Kingham and Afton Loftus.

“They were really good actors,” Kennedy said. “I thought the video was really cool.”

In this year’s PSA, the student actors sit on a couch in class, going over a missed assignment, when Kingham receives a piece of paper with a pink heart on it. The note is from some of his classmates, who are teasing Kingham about Loftus. Kingham gets embarrassed and walks away from Loftus.

After talking to his teacher, he writes a note back to Loftus, apologizing. They both crack a smile and return to the couch to finish studying.

“It’s really empowering,” said Edwards about the program. “It’s good anti-bullying awareness.”

To watch the two-minute PSA to to


— By Kurtis J. Wood,