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Posted: 8/19/2019


PACER’s National Bullying Prevention is excited to support the live action short film, LIKE US, created by The Family School Association (FSA) of The Ethical Community Charter School and the FSA Performing Arts Program, together with THISLEARNING®.

LIKE US is a unique project directed by Kris Van Nest, most known for his work in television and corporate videography, as well as teaching of filmmaking/video courses in Jersey City. With Assistant Director Ann E. Wallace, Van Nest led students in 6th - 8th grade through a ten-week screenwriting process starting in September 2018. The ten student screenwriters were challenged to tell a story with an ethical dilemma at its center and include a large cast of student actors. New York casting agent Meghan Rafferty was tasked with building a diverse cast, allowing all interested students in grades 2-8 to join the project while teaching them how to prepare for an on-camera audition. Over the winter, Van Nest introduced the participating students to everything they needed to know about rehearsing and film production. Both on and off screen, students learned technical skills, such as how to hold a camera and operate sound and lighting equipment. Equally important, they were taught not to judge themselves or each other during the creative production process.

View the trailer.

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Sean's First Day

Posted: 6/17/2019

Sean’s First Day of School, produced by South African independent filmmaker Niki Gower, is a wonderful short film about the impact students have on creating a welcoming and caring school community, and how this can, in turn, help create a world without bullying.

This film was made by the students from a public secondary school on the main island of Mahé in the Seychelles, off the east coast of Africa. Niki explains, “I was approached by a teacher from Belonie Secondary School. Ms. Esther Fernandes-Villela wanted to work on a video project with a group of students who had shown an interest in arts and culture. We left it up to the kids to decide what the topic would be, with the only guideline being that it needed to address a problem or cause in their school or community. They chose bullying. With a loose script, we met up on a Saturday; the kids sacrificed their weekend to do so. We had a lot of fun putting this together and the children were very enthusiastic. The film was subsequently entered into the Seychelles Festival National Du Film d'Education, where it won first place. More importantly it was screened in a packed auditorium filled with school students, teachers, and parents—the audience it was intended for. I really hope that what we created goes on to educate and inspire thousands of others to stand up against bullying, in all its forms.”

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“Can We Create a World Without Bullying?” Pepperdine School of Public Policy Weighs in on The Debate!

Posted: 6/10/2019

On March 26th, 315 students packed Elkins Auditorium at Pepperdine University to hear the Pepperdine Waves Debate Team and students from the Woodlake Elementary “Let’s Argue” class debate the premise that we can “Create a World Without Bullying.” In addition to the debate, the Pepperdine School of Public Policy sent Dr. Luisa Raynal to give closing remarks and a master’s program student, Andrew Phillips, to look at translating conclusions into policy.

After watching the debate, receiving feedback from attendees, and using information found on, Andrew created a one-page summary to inspire the Pepperdine community to take action against bullying. While encouraging everyone to work together to change cultural and social norms, he also acknowledged that while “using education and civil discourse to promote social and emotional learning is an effective way” to create change around bullying, adults must also “model the behavior we want our children to emulate.”

Thank you, Andrew Phillips and the Pepperdine School of Public Policy, for inspiring change in your community and beyond.

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Posted: 6/7/2019

The non profit FSA Performing Arts Program at The Ethical Community Charter School in Jersey City, NJ (TECCS) has a mission to provide performing arts related experiences and opportunities to all interested students after school no matter their family economics. A project of important note is the development of a live action short film titled LIKE US. It is a film for kids, by kids. The screenplay was written by ten students in grades 6-8 over a period of 10 weeks. During some very honest and courageous writing sessions students shared painful truths about bullying that have become very important to the story. During the writing sessions one student shared he was bullied so badly he left his previous school for a fresh start at TECCS. LIKE US, can be seen this September and shows how a group of five students overcome the intimidation and intolerable cruelty by some of their peers. The director is Professional Educator and Television host Kris Van Nest, also Executive Producer of the online media network THISLEARNING®. Assistant Director, Ann E. Wallace, is a published poet and Associate Professor of English at New Jersey City University. The project was produced by Middle schoolers and a growing group of volunteer parents lead by Kim Correro.

Like Us Film Synopsis

The Shooting Star Youth Challenge is coming to town, and Cory, Fatin, Lana, Astrid, and Trevor have each been unable to find a team. In a chance meeting in the school office, the Principal asks the group of outcasts—rejected for their gender identity, disability, and personalities—to band together for the competition. Some of the students are not too happy to be forced onto a team of kids that no one else wants, and, believing the terrible things that other kids say about them, they are sure they will lose. They soon learn, however, that each one has a special talent and that the C Flats, as they have decided to call themselves, are a real contender. But as the big day approaches, the team members are shaken by comments made online and in person about them. Together they rebuild their confidence and are ready to compete. However, they soon learn that Lana has been facing a much larger challenge than shooting a basket or nailing a standup comedy routine, when, in a moment of desperation, she confides that she is homeless. Faced with a difficult dilemma, the team must decide where to put its efforts, on making it to States or on helping their friend against her wishes. When the group steps up to help their new friend, serendipitously aided by a group of stagehands who spread the news about Lana online, we see that what makes these kids winners are not the skills they bring to Shooting Star but the size of their hearts.

Read the article in March’s Macaroni Kid magazine, Film Program Teaches Kids More Than Just Film Making
Instagram: @fsaperformingarts
Facebook: @fsaperformngarts

By: KC

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The Gemstone Heart

Posted: 6/7/2019

Hello, my name is Jaida Rogers.

The reason why I was interested in making the video about bullying is because I was bullied from 1st grade all the way until 8th grade. During this time, I would see other people around me getting bullied as well. Seeing that made me feel very sad and disappointed knowing that there are people out there other than me that were being bullied. But not only was I sad for those that were being bullied but also for the people that were doing the bullying.

I know that people don’t do something unless they have a reason for it. I believe that the people that are bullying others are going through something in their school or at home. In my film, that is part of the reason why I had the target show kindness to the person that was bullying her.

The reason the video is called Gemstone Heart is because the gemstone heart represents the personality and heart of the target. A gemstone is very hard to find and is therefore very rare. However, once you do and you get a good look at it, it's very beautiful and you wonder why the earth can’t have these stones all over the place and why they aren't easier to find. And this holds true for the victim as well in my film. The victim is very rare, meaning her personality and the way she views things is very hard to find, but once you find a person like her you become very impressed and fond of that person.

Thank you for taking the time and looking at my film.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does being kind impact a bullying situation?
  2. Does all bullying stop when someone is kind, and if not, what more can be done?

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Paper feathers show “No Place for Hate”

Posted: 6/6/2019

What happens when two teachers put their heads together to come up with a bullying prevention project for their students? More than 550 paper feathers decorated by students become a giant multicolored peace dove accompanied by the words “No Place For Hate.”

Hidden Valley Elementary School in Savage, MN, has a diverse student population that represents 20 languages. Art teacher Sara Merkel and school social worker Kristen Reichert thought it was important for their students to hear positive messages about kindness, acceptance, and inclusion within the school. They thought of a giant peace dove and chose 20 student leaders, called “student ambassadors,” to cut out 550 paper feathers and hand them out to individual students to color.

Those students, and the school’s faculty and staff, did not know what the purpose would be for the paper feathers project. Then, one day, those 550 feathers became a giant display near the school’s entrance and office. Parents, staff, and students from the entire school were surprised and in awe of the beautiful artwork and kind message.
“It’s really important for all kids to know that they’re welcome and safe and wanted here,” Kristen Reichert told the Savage Pacer newspaper, adding that the project taught students the “purpose here is to be kind and helping to our friends.”

Some of these ideas were inspired by Kristen, who attended PACER’s symposium and learned more about educational resources for bullying prevention.

This project impacted teachers and students. “You shouldn’t bully,” said Hanan Dayib, a fifth grader who participated in coloring one of the paper feathers. “It’s not really a nice thing.”

This art project is not the only activity aimed at helping students feel safe at school. Teachers, staff, and leaders throughout the school district have taken training to help participants become more culturally aware and sensitive to students’ needs. One outcome in Sara Merkel’s classroom is that she works to include a variety of cultures in her classes. For example, she recently included a Somali folk tale called “The Lion’s Share” as part of the classroom activities. By creating culturally diverse activities in class, students see that teachers are kind, accepting, and supportive people.

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Rocking Kindness

Posted: 6/5/2019

Grande Innovation Academy, in Casa Grande, AZ, made this video in response to the 'Rocking Kindness' theme they are celebrating during October's National Bullying Prevention Month. The 5th graders, with their science and math teacher, Mr. Reginald Parulan, wanted to share the important message of speaking up against bullying.

Duration: 7 minutes and 28 seconds
Actors & Actresses: 5th Grade Class 2017-2018 of Grande Innovation Academy
Videographer & Editor: Mr. Reginald Parulan, 5th Grade Teacher at Grande Innovation Academy

Discussion questions provided by the students:

  1. Why do we need to talk about bullying?
  2. What can you do to help someone (and be safe doing it) who is experiencing bullying?
  3. What can you do to help prevent or stop bullying at your school, online or in the community?

Mr. Parulan shared, "Let's all share the same goal of creating communities that are united in kindness, acceptance and inclusion."

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A celebration of unity

Posted: 6/3/2019

Students at Central High School in LaCrosse, Wisc., celebrated Unity Day on Oct. 19, 2016, by installing a 1,000-piece Unity Origami Peace Cranes Sculpture. This collaborative project was developed by members of the Art Club, led by teacher Lori Aschenbrener, and the Culture Club, Feminist Club, GSA-Gay-Straight Alliance, Chinese Club, and several non-club member students. They contributed to the school’s collection of 1,000 origami peace cranes as a symbol of unity in diversity and a community of compassion.

A special thank-you to the students who dedicated seven and a half hours of time to string and hang the cranes, and to all of the students and staff who contributed to the effort! Students and teachers shared that the project was great for the school community and that the creation of the origami cranes spread from student to student.

The project was inspired by the story of Sadako Sasaki, who lived in Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II. Before her death, she was inspired by the Japanese legend that if one folds 1,000 origami paper cranes, one would have their heart’s desire come true. Though Sadako died, the memory of her lives — her character and name live. Her story has been translated into many languages and students around the world read about her. She has become an inspiration to many whose efforts support peace and unity; that one’s effort does not go unnoticed.

Several students from Central High School shared their feelings about this experience:

“The whole process of making 1,000 cranes was a big task and the whole school pitched in to help. It was really awesome that we reached our goal. We, the students, were in charge. It was out of our creativity that we brought about the amazing unity at Central High.” —Peter

“I really enjoyed working on the paper crane project. I showed a lot of people how to make the cranes and some other kids took that skill and made more cranes for people in the community. One girl gave them to a person who was in the hospital and that made her day! The cranes brought happiness outside the school and into the community.” —Claire

“I connected to the 1,000 crane project because when I was in second grade through seventh grade I was bullied. Now I help support and protect every kid from being bullied or from becoming someone who bullies others, and I help them make friends instead.” —Kiya

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Anyone can be a hero

Posted: 6/2/2019

“Anyone can be a hero” is the motto of the student-led bullying prevention presentation given to the entire freshman class at Lincoln High School in Portland, Ore. Caleb, one of the students strongly affected by the presentation as a freshman, took on a leadership role in the bullying prevention program and is leading by example in his school and his community. (Read his story in Students Taking Action)

During the program, students are educated on the types of bullying and the effects of bullying, and they become motivated to be upstanders rather than bystanders. Student engagement is high because the presentations are given by peers, and the videos shown are of Lincoln High students talking about their own experiences with bullying and personal advice on how to overcome it.

The presentation also includes NCT, which stands for “Name It. Claim It. Tame It.” Scenarios accompany class discussion, and the students sign a “Be a Hero” pledge that says: “I am willing to stop bullying at Lincoln by saying something when I see it and reporting it when I need to.” The signed pledges are placed around the school as visual demonstrations of Lincoln’s ongoing commitment to motivating others to be an upstander when it comes to bullying, a person who recognizes that something is wrong and acts to make it right. 

Another valuable part of the program is that feedback is gathered from the freshman about what they learned, what was most effective, and what could be improved to make more of an impact. Feedback from students is really positive and includes statements such as “It changed my life,” “I now feel I have the courage to stand up against bullying,” and “I now know that I don’t have to fight bullying alone.”

“Since the student-led bullying prevention presentation has been implemented,” Caleb says, “we have seen the rate of bullying dramatically go down and countless lives touched.”

We thank Lincoln High School for being a leader in bullying prevention!

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Burton Tech Creates a Whole Year of Bullying Prevention

Posted: 6/1/2019

When faced with a persistent bullying problem at Burton Tech High School, the student, faculty, and administration decided to do something big: they devoted a whole class period for an entire school year, from August until June, to bullying prevention. The whole endeavor started when two 10th graders went to a teacher with the idea of doing something about the bullying problem that had impacted them both personally. That teacher, Allison Levine, helped them plan for a specialized “advisory” that would be devoted to reducing the amount of bullying in their school and supporting those who were being bullied. Ms. Levine went to Principal Rogelio Sanchez with a plan to have the advisory and plan activities throughout the year for the student body.

Starting with exercises and dialogue about their school culture and the bullying that was happening, they brainstormed how they could involve all students in becoming more aware of solutions to bullying they might be experiencing. After naming themselves the “Mentors and Protectors” (MAPS) they planned a large celebration for Unity Day in October that involved the school community, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, representatives from the military, trustees of Burton Tech, and parents. There was a poetry slam, speeches, and booths with games, crafts, and other activities. After that was over they began planning for what they called a “Bully Bootcamp,” where the MAPS students would teach and lead activities with the students from the rest of the school, one advisory after another until every student had participated. When that was completed, again with the support of Ms. Levine and Principal Sanchez, they began to write lessons for the incoming freshman orientation happening Summer 2017.

For their efforts, the Los Angeles Youth Advisory Board of PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center voted to give MAPS a “Faces of Change” award and the school gave them their medals and certificates at an assembly attended by the school community and local officials. What’s next for this amazing group? Doing it all over again in the next school year! The Mentors and Protectors of Burton Tech are creating a community of kindness, acceptance, and inclusion a year at a time.

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