By Jennifer Solis
---- — WEST NEWBURY — Local teens joined nearly 5,000 other middle and high school students and teachers from across New England in saying no to bullying at STAND UP 2012 held at the Tsongas Center in Lowell yesterday.
A coalition of 39 students and eight adults from Pentucket Regional Middle School participated in the one-day anti-bullying program created to educate, motivate and empower young people to actively promote positive social change in their schools and communities.
While there, the middle school team ran into eight students from the high school. As eighth-graders, they had attended a similar event with middle school Principal Debra Lay last year and had independently sought permission from high school Principal Jonathan Seymour to represent Pentucket at the event this year.
“I love the carry-over!” Lay said.
Developed in partnership with renowned bullying prevention authorities to ensure the most effective messaging and call to action for the students and their educators, STAND UP 2012 provided educational information, dialogue, entertainment and motivational talks from celebrities to help empower students to stand up to bullying. During the day, the teens also had the opportunity to break into groups to discuss their own ideas and opinions about bullying and how to create positive change.
The event included a performance by Jillian Jensen of the 2012 X-Factor auditions, who is herself a victim of bullying. The students heard from motivational speaker and author of “Be Beautiful, Be You,” Lizzie Velasquez, as well as from Kirk Smalley, who was featured in the movie “Bully.”
Lay said another highlight was a discussion in town hall meeting-style in which a diverse group of students talked about how bullying has impacted them. The audience participated interactively in the discussion during a question and answer period that included texting technologies. Representatives from the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center, a well-known anti-bullying organization, led the discussion.
At the end of the day three schools were recognized for the innovative programs they have developed to deal with bullying:
Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School in Devens
Southeast Alternative School in Middleboro
Hudson Memorial School Ambassadors of Hope in Hudson, N.H.
For more information on STAND UP 2012 visit http://www.standuptobullying.org.