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TSAS students promote anti-bullying
Tongass School of Arts and Sciences students, from left, Jameson Robbins, Zack Gray and Aayden Cornwall, stand with one of the posters they've created to help spread an anti-bullying message at the school. Staff photo by Danelle Landis

Daily News Staff Writer

Tongass School of Arts and Sciences fifth-graders Aayden Cornwall, Zack Gray and Jameson Robbins saw a problem and, a few weeks ago, they jumped in to fix it.

“There’s been a lot of bullying and stuff, so Aayden came up with, like, ‘Stop Bullying but Keep Boogying,’” Zack said.

“I just came up with it,” Aayden said. “There should be no bullying.”

Zack added, “We have really active imaginations. That’s a true fact about all of us.”

They made four posters, they said, one for kindergarten, one for first and second grades, one for third and fourth grades, and one for fifth and sixth grades. Each poster was emblazoned with their “Stop Bullying but Keep Boogying” motto as well as stars, smiley faces and drawings of cheese.

Jameson said that when they distributed the posters, they asked the teachers if they could visit each classroom to deliver their message.

Zack said when they visited the classrooms, they told the students, “Bullying equals bad, boogy equals good.”

Jameson said they also offered a lively performance at the end of their presentation to help deliver their message.

“We would take my phone, I would bring it to school every day, and we would get a non-lyrics dubstep song and play it and we’d start boogying to it, and then we’d let the little kids get up and dance with us,” Jameson explained.

The trio agreed that Jameson was the prime mover of the group, getting them out to spread their message.

Jameson said they also taught the students about the types of bullying, such as cyber bullying, friend-to-friend bullying and adult-to-student bullying. They said they also instructed students that whether they are in school or out in the community, if they encounter bullying they should ask an adult such as a police officer, a parent, or a store manager for help.

Jameson said that to him, bullying is defined as a behavior that hurts another person, especially if it’s done repeatedly.

He and Zack gave examples of bullying they’d experienced targeting either them, friends or other peers.

“Saying ‘you’re ugly,’ multiple times, or ‘You smell like beef,’” Jameson said he’d most recently heard.

Zack said someone recently had called out, “Eww, I smell Zack, pe-uw!” in the classroom.

Jameson said another example of bullying he’d recently experienced was a bully threatening to hurt a student if that student told a teacher about the bully’s bad behavior.

The trio also pantomimed the school’s official “stop, walk and talk” method of dealing with bullies, where if a bully confronts a student, the student should say “stop,” and if the bully does not stop, the student should walk away and talk with a teacher or staff member.

The group said that they didn’t perform their boogying dance in their own classroom, as they thought the older students wouldn’t be as receptive to the humor.

Instead, they asked TSAS Principal Marion Gonzales to allow them to share their message more broadly during morning school announcements, which they felt was effective. They said they’d been told, however, that the fifth- and sixth-graders had started dancing when the music was played over the speakers.

The trio laughed as they demonstrated their official “boogying” dance, with a crab-like walk and raised hands poised as pincers.

TSAS Health Aid Cindy Moody, who helped the group to organize, said she hoped the new bullying message would continue, especially since all three boys plan to attend the school next year.

“It’s kind of an icebreaker,” she said of the slogan and dance. “For kids that don’t have words, especially.”