Plattekill Students Learn New Anti-Bullying Skills

PLATTEKILL – Capitalizing on the excitement of the upcoming Halloween season, Plattekill Elementary School staged a monster-themed assembly for Grade 6 students on October 16. The “Don’t Be a Monster” program, presented with support from Headless Horseman Hayrides & Haunted Houses in Ulster Park, was just one of the ways the school observed National Bullying Prevention Month. Bullies, the assembly explained, are real-life monsters.

Headless Horseman illusionist Ryan Dutcher introduced the students to information about bullying, including the sobering facts that every seven seconds someone gets bullied, and that bullying leads some young people to contemplate suicide.

The Plattekill students watched a video about Phoebe Prince, a bullied Massachusetts freshman who ultimately killed herself, as well as another video featuring “Frank Shelley,” a sweet monster who is tormented at school for his clothing, his unusual appearance, and for being different.

Dutcher, who said that he was bullied when he was young because of his affinity for doing magic tricks, advised the Plattekill students to be themselves and to avoid worrying about conforming to the expectations of others.

He also urged them to not look away if they see someone being bullied. “I want you to be upstanders, not bystanders,” Dutcher declared. Being an upstander, he explained, can be as simple as joining someone who is being ostracized for lunch, helping a bullied student to walk away from whoever is harassing him or her, or bringing the bullying behavior to the attention of a trusted adult.

The students also have the responsibility to avoid acting like a monster themselves, Dutcher said. “Your actions today can affect someone’s life,” he said. “Think before you say or do anything.”

Dutcher then introduced his good friend Frank Shelley to the students, who clamored to give the friendly monster a high five or a handshake.

The assembly hit a chord with students, who increased their knowledge about bullying and how to combat it. “I learned that cyberbullying can be worse than other kinds of bullying,” remarked Heavenly Evans, who explained that bullies can use the internet to bully people even when they are in their own homes. Her classmate, Ava Santiago, learned the importance of disregarding bullying comments. “You can be better than what people say you are,” she said.

This assembly, according to Plattekill Principal Monica Hasbrouck, was in keeping with the school’s “Be A Bucket Filler” theme, which was inspired by the book How Full is Your Bucket?

For Kidsby Mary Reckmeyer and Tom Rath. During a previous assembly, she reported, “Students learned we all have a “bucket” over our heads that needs to be full to feel good about ourselves. Students strive to fill their peers’ buckets versus depleting them.”

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