By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Dearborn Public School students filled the stage and audience Nov. 17 for the district’s “Wicked”-themed response to bullying.
The fifth annual event included music, stories and songs performed by DPS elementary, middle and high school students at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center.
“Wicked” tells the back story of the two witches in the “Wizard of Oz,” illustrating that there are two sides to every story.
As young girls, the “good witch” wasn’t always so good and the “bad witch” was repeatedly teased, bullied and left out. In the end, the two girls became friends, but not until after they learned the important lessons that words and actions have consequences.
The scene was acted out by Dearborn, Edsel Ford and Fordson high school students during the anti-bullying event.
Stout Middle School students performed the song “Popular” from “Wicked,” demonstrating the differences in stereotypes with the popular and unpopular children in school.
Students from Geer Park Elementary filled the stage wearing green and pink on opposite sides while performing and singing “What Is This Feeling?”
Edsel Ford teacher Jacob Belknap led the crowd in a team building activity where he prompted the audience to participate in creating storm like sounds in unison.
He also led everyone in attendance in an anti-bullying pledge promoting having unlimited power.
Slade Segerson and Jaida Futch of Edsel Ford danced to “Into The Unknown” and performed “For Good,” respectively.
The annual anti-bullying event is part of the district-wide plan, community partnerships and student-driven initiatives to identify and stop bullying behavior.
The Response to Bullying Program has been a role model for other groups and organizations across the country.
The program is a city-wide effort in which partners work together to reach all community members and build a bully-free culture throughout the city.
In 2012, DPS put into place a policy on bullying behavior that requires all staff members having any contact with students to participate in annual anti-bullying professional development on how to prevent, identify, respond to and report bullying behavior.
In addition, each school conducts anti-bullying training for parents, tracks incidents of bullying behavior, and holds three anti-bullying events each year.
“It is amazing to see such a great crowd here supporting anti-bullying,” DPS Supt. Glenn Maleyko said. “Remember that we do need the students to get involved, to say that this will not be tolerated, to show positive action to not allow bullying in our schools.”
Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. told the audience to think about feelings, telling the crowd not to take their feelings and push them on to someone else.
“We can’t hurt anybody else,” he said. “We have to control ourselves and know that every one of us is unique. There are no two people in this room who are exactly the same and we should celebrate that.”
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at zeinabnajm92.com.)