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10/24/2013 9:50:00 AM Email this articlePrint this article 
Unmaking a Bully campaign returns to Cashmere schools

Sebastian Moraga
Staff writer

Lights, camera, friendship.

Fourth-graders at Vale Elementary worked for a week on a video public service announcement for the second annual Unmaking a Bully campaign, to appear in November in Wenatchee.

Last year's class was Scott Griffith's fourth-grade class. This year it was Jillian Lowers' class smiling under the lights.

"We want to come back every year," said Lisa Bradshaw of Wenatchee nonprofit Don't Wait Project which teams up with Mike Feurstein from New York's Unmake a Bully to create the public service announcement among the youth of Quincy, Cashmere and Wenatchee.

"We do fourth through 12th," Bradshaw said of the grades featured in the PSAs. The middle school and the high school will create their own PSAs. Fourth grader is the youngest age for a reason.

"They are handling very expensive equipment, so they need to be old enough to be able to do that, because they do it all themselves. Also, it's when [the message] starts to have the most impact."

On this year's fourth-grader PSA, a student tells her teacher that she is being bullied, and the teacher shares with her that she was once bullied, too.

Lowers contributes with a cameo in the PSA.

"I'm the teacher that the student getting bullied comes to," she said. "And I reflect back on my past and then we go back to my past and [student] Rylee Peery plays me."

In one scene, a boy pulls a chair from under the future teacher, and while some helped, some other students pointed and laughed.

When that happened in real life, Lowers was in seventh grade, and the chair was a science class three-legged stool, so the fall was a lot farther.

"I almost broke my tailbone," she said.

Students, under the direction of adults, occupied every position on a studio set, from acting to directing, including handling sound, lights, cameras and the fabled slate board, which was a favorite of the young bunch.

"They all want that slate, they all recognize it," Bradshaw said.

Student Beto Guerra was the director and he sat behind a large screen. Karina Naranjo worked the lights, although they got really heavy and hot after a while.

"Arms getting tired?" Feurstein asked Naranjo. When she said yes, he placed the light on a desk, to the relief of Naranjo's arms.

The variety of jobs allows the more shy children to have an important role, even if it's away from the cameras.

The hands-on experience makes the message more effective. While the first day was spent on instruction, the second day, children shared their own experiences, from which the script used was chosen.

"The kids are telling it from their own voice," Bradshaw. "Sometimes, by the end of the week, the kids are saying things like, they didn't even realize they were bullying other kids, they didn't realize their behavior, the impact it had.

And also, it's very hard work.

"It takes us an entire day to do a 60-second ad," Bradshaw said. On this day, Peery -as a younger Lowers- fell off her chair great, but a couple of times she smiled for the camera on the way down.

The project is called Unmake a Bully because what it seeks to accomplish is not to label someone a bully but to change his or her behavior.

"If you change the behavior, you unmake a bully, they don't need to be called that," Bradshaw said. "It's a behavior any of us can change at any time and have a fresh slate."

Sebastian Moraga can be reached at 782-3781 or reporter@cashmerevalleyrecord.com.

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