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Austin Elementary School Takes New Approach to Bullying

Posted at: 02/18/2013 6:05 PM
Updated at: 02/18/2013 6:11 PM
By: Justin Thompson-Gee

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Suicide is the third leading cause of death amongst young people and half are related to bullying. Two million adolescents attempt to end their life every year and victims of bullying are up to ten times more likely to consider suicide. The statistics are staggering and literally life threatening and an Austin school is trying something new to stop the violence.

Since the suicides of southeast Minnesota students last year, schools are trying their best to stop bullying, especially at a young age. More than 50 students at Southgate elementary school in Austin have been practicing for seven weeks straight to present their take on Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Ugly Duckling”.

“We created the contemporary version, so it’s no longer ducks in a pond, but it’s students in a classroom. Really speaks very dear to the heart of children who have ever been bullied and how to rise above it” says Lisa Deyo fourth grade teacher and director of the play “Gray and Grey”.

Student actors from the second to fifth grade really took to heart the anti-bullying message.

“My goal is to stop the bullying from all the kids that’s gone around our school” says fifth grade student Julia Moldenhauer.

Ameisha Gunsallus who plays the role of narrator number one hopes that students who see the play realize that bullying needs to stop because it “really hurts people’s feelings.

And Jackson Marsh who plays the lead ugly duckling “Gray” says “bullying is a big problem and so we thought it would be good to do a play to say that bullying is bad”.

Since the production of “Gray and Grey” had a deeper purpose it was necessary for students to talk about the pains of bullying beforehand.

Deyo said that they had talks about how it feels to be bullied, how you should act and how you can resolve things. Moldenhauer  admitted that she sees bullying on the playground and in the classrooms when the teacher’s back is to the students.

The entire Southgate student body watched the performance Monday afternoon and parents and community members were able to see the show Monday evening.