Athens Review, Athens, Texas

February 18, 2013

Serious problem

HCPAC produces DVD about bullying

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

Athens — You’ve probably watched the scene, or one like it.

A bully picks on a kid in a school yard, until the victim gets riled up and smacks the perpetrator in the nose.

A DVD produced by the Henderson County Performing Arts Center shows bullying to be a much more serious problem.

HCPAC Executive Director Dennis Gilmore said the DVD was done using students in the center’s Youth Excellence on stage program both in front of and behind the camera.  Nine months in the making, the DVD features local students in the roles of a timid teenage girl and her tormentors.

“What’s going to happen now is – we have a packet with the DVD, a study guide and 10 different stop-bullying posters that are going to be made available to school districts in the East Texas region,” Gilmore said.

“The theater was commissioned by the East Texas Communities Foundation to develop the stop-bullying program.  We completed that project, and will be distributing DVDs and Study Guides to 35 ISDs and 140 campuses across the region. The school districts receiving the packets range from Longview in the east, to Kaufman in the west,” Gilmore said.

The DVD begins with the dramatization of a news report stating that a tragedy has happened at a fictional high school.  Via a flashback, we see the story unfold of how a female student is ridiculed and pushed around, until she takes her own life. Students tell the reporter they wish they had done something that might have made a difference.

The DVD was shown at the Athens Kiwanis meeting on Feb. 12.

  “The video is a proactive approach,” HCPAC Education Coordinator Teri Kirksey said. “We have the video, and we have the curriculum to go into the schools, and say ‘We have a plan for you to open up the dialogue with students and parents in a way to get the discussion flowing.’”

Kirksey hopes the video will not only shine a light on the problem, but also yield positive results.

“We hope students will become ambassadors for their fellow students, and stand up, and say ‘This is not right.’”

Gilmore said the video got a boost from the Athens Independent School District.

“The exciting thing about it, we met with Athens Superintendent Blake Stiles, and showed him the DVD, and information we had put together,” Gilmore said. “He liked it so much, he invited us to come back two weeks later, and present it to his leadership team.”

When the leadership team saw it, they also responded positively.