Creekwood Middle School addresses bullying through theater
- Written by Anne McIlhany
“Pickin” production presented by eighth-grade theater students Creekwood Middle School has taken the all too common adolescent problem of bullying, and addressed it in a very creative way: drama. CMS eighth-grade theater students, led by teacher Tracy Perthuis, recently produced and presented a dramatic play entitled “Pickin,” which addresses the issue of bullying in a straightforward manner. The play was presented to sixth, seventh and eighth-grade students separately, with a follow-up advisory period a few days later to allow the students a chance to discuss it. Eighth grade theater student Austin Brass was excited about the chance to make a difference. “We’re saving the world, one play at a time,” he said with a smile. Assistant Principal Bob Camps led the introduction before the play. “How many of you all have been picked on this year?” he asked the student audience. Several of the students raised their hands. “I don’t think there is one person here who felt good about being picked on,” Camps added. “It’s not right, and it’s not going to happen.” The play involved a student named Billy Jackson, a shy young teenager who became a target of the majority of his peers. Cheerleaders made up cheers intended to make fun of him, and peers taunted and laughed at him. He was called “freak,” “pee boy” and other cruel names on a daily basis, and at times was physically accosted by his peers, including being shoved to the ground. The dramatic conclusion of the play involved Billy bringing a gun to a football game, and threatening his tormentors with it. Billy was taken into custody by police, and his peers had to deal with the aftermath of the trauma. At the conclusion of the play, the theater was silent for a moment before the applause began. It was clear the message had gotten through to the students of CMS. “We are amazed by how the kids are reacting to it,” said Perthuis. “The kids are really taking it seriously.” The eighth-grade theater students who participated in the play were thoughtful about the message they helped to convey to their peers. Naomi Schlosser felt that the play was meaningful and shared her thoughts. “This play was a big deal to me because people get picked on all day long, and most of the time people don’t realize the effects of it and how it can change people,” she said. The advisory period that followed the play was used as a chance for students to discuss the bullying issue. Talking points presented for discussion included questions regarding how prevalent students believed bullying was at school, what role passive bystanders play in a bullying situation and what students could do to reduce or limit bullying behaviors. Theater student Gabriela Garcia felt that the play really did make a difference. “We did this play because bullying is a big problem in this country and we wanted to find a more interesting way to get the message across that bullying is bad. And we did,” she said. Perthuis has high hopes that the production of “Pickin” made an impact on CMS students. “My hope is that if kids see this kind of behavior, they will recognize it and stop, or if they are bullied they can talk about it and get help,” she said. “This opens doors for kids to talk about it.” To read other comments from CMS eight-grade theater students, visit www.ourtribune.com. Photo: Theater students from Creekwood Middle School perform the production of “Pickin’” – a play that addresses the issue of bullying.