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High-schoolers battle bullying

A group of students at Roaring Fork High School hit on a timely, and sometimes deadly, issue Wednesday.

The Student Empowerment group produced a presentation on cliques and bullying called “Subconscious Actions with Unknown Reactions.”

“Bang, Bang, You’re Dead,” a video the group presented, invokes towns and schools that have become synonymous with school shootings: Jonesboro, Springfield and Columbine.



Had the video been more recent, it likely would have included Red Lake, Minn., where a student this week killed his grandfather and his grandfather’s companion before driving to his high school and killing a security guard, teacher, five students and himself.

The Associated Press reported the student was teased at school.



“Bang, Bang, You’re Dead,” is a fictional account of a high school boy who brings a video camera to school every day. The boy, Trevor, was nicknamed Trashcan after a group of jocks dumped him in a trashcan his freshman year. The name and physical mistreatment stuck.

At one point in the video he says into the camera, “Kids can be the most ruthless people in the world. They can just be supernaturally cruel. … I can’t take two more years of this. … I don’t know what I’m capable of … Gun? Bomb? Instant justice.”

Roaring Fork doesn’t have the kind of physical or extreme abuse the video portrays, but name-calling is normal, the group said. The group performed two skits it said are more typical of bullying at Roaring Fork.

In one, a girl approached two others, was called sexually derogatory names and insulted about her clothes. In another, a group of guys, all friends, call each other “fags” and tease one boy in particular for not knowing the outcome of a Nuggets game.

Student Empowerment hoped to show that even names and insults can be harmful.

Their hope is to “just get (students) to think about the words they use before they use them,” said Matt Riley.

IS HE A MEMBER

In that respect, Student Empowerment was successful.

Following the presentation, each teacher held a class discussion on bullying. Students in Hadley Hentschel’s biology class acknowledged that the presentation, and “Bang, Bang” in particular, had raised awareness. The students thought adjusting their own attitudes and confronting classmates that bully are the most likely solutions to any clique problems at the school.

Some, however, wondered if there was a solution to cliques, which is a perennial problem at high schools.

“If it started in elementary school, we’re not going to get rid of it now,” said Renee French, a senior.

Administrators are aware of the bullying and clique problems, but, like the students, don’t think anyone was physically harassed.

There isn’t a problem with physical bullying, said principal Wendy Moore. “But the name-calling? Yeah.”

The Student Empowerment group came up with the idea of how to handle cliques. It sent out a survey to high schools around the Roaring Fork Valley, which found stereotypes between different student groups.

“We weren’t very happy with what we saw,” said Jaclyn Nicholson, a senior.

Student Empowerment students did acknowledge the timeliness of their presentation in light of the Red Lake shooting, but didn’t think they needed to worry about shootings at Roaring Fork.

“At least I hope not,” Nicholson said.

“This is a very relevant high school issue that needs to be dealt with,” she said. But at Roaring Fork it’s “more something we want to prevent than something we want to get rid of.”

Contact Ryan Graff: 945-8515, ext. 520

rgraff@postindependent.com


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