Nobody likes a bully. That is the lesson several dozen Brook Knoll Elementary School students learned on Tuesday when members of the Scotts Valley High School drama department performed anti-bullying skits for them.
The 10 advanced drama students performed four skits: “You’re Mean,” “You’re Stupid,” “You’re Weird,” and “You’re Different.”
“They are here to present to you how to be the best you can be,” Brook Knoll Principal Shar Santos told her students. “Being a good friend, refraining from bullying, and just being the very best you can be.”
Two of the skits were written by the drama students and two of the skits were written by Scotts Valley parent Lea Reed, who came up with the idea of having performances of anti-bullying skits at the elementary schools.
“I spend a lot of time at the schools and wanted to do something visual for kids to see different situations where there might be bullying happening and they didn’t even realize it,” Reed said. “You know, things they thought were funny that were really hurting people’s feelings. I thought doing it in a very visual way would help them see it from a different perspective.”
With the idea in mind and the two skits that she had written, Reed approached SVHS drama teacher Naomi Rollins who loved the idea.
“One of the things the students wanted to do at the beginning of the year was more outreach to the middle and elementary schools,” Rollins said. “But we didn’t really know what that was going to be.”
Rollins brought the idea for the anti-bullying skits to her advanced drama students and they immediately jumped on board.
“We all sat down and talked about how we had been bullied. As we did that we all took notes and from those actual experiences we had came the skits,” Rollins said.
The students performed twice on Tuesday, first to a group of third-graders then to the fourth- and fifth-graders. At the beginning of the assembly, Reed asked how many students had heard the words, “Sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you,” and nearly every hand in the room went up. When asked how many believed that those words were true, only a few hands went up.
“For me that’s not true. Words can really hurt,” Reed told the students. “We are going to talk about words and how they can hurt people. A lot of the ways to bully are the things you know about, hitting somebody or kicking or pushing. But how many of you know that words can actually hurt people? There are a lot of words that are considered bullying because they can really hurt people’s feelings.”
The students raptly watched and listened as the skits were being performed then discussed different ways the situations performed could have been handled so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings.
Reed said the response from the teachers and students has been phenomenal.
“So many teachers have stopped me in the hall and said how much they appreciate it,” Reed said. “They are going back to their classes and talking about it and really trying to make lessons out of it.”
The skits were performed in November at Vine Hill Elementary School and the drama students will have another performance for Brook Knoll students on Friday. But they don’t want it to end there.
“It has been a really great experience for [my students] and for me,” Rollins said. “Seeing the look on the kids faces and that they can affect them through theater and through the arts is important. I’m really hoping we can continue it on and do more outreach in the community, especially around this topic because it’s so important.