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November 20. 2013 9:57PM

Londonderry students put anti-bullying message into practice

LONDONDERRY — Sometimes reaching out to a classmate in need can be as simple as giving a random compliment or leaving a friendly note in their locker.

Those are just some of the anti-bullying lessons a group of seventh- and eighth-graders at Londonderry Middle School are putting into practice.

Last Friday, 60 students, including seventh-grade peer leaders and eighth-grade student mentors, traveled to the University of New Hampshire’s main campus in Durham to take part in the statewide Stand Up To Bullying rally.

About 3,500 of the state’s middle and high school students were there to show their solidarity.

Assistant Principal Donna Dyer, who accompanied the students along with guidance counselors Heather Newman and Sharon McCarthy, staff member Laura Lambert and several parent volunteers, said the experience certainly resonated with the kids.

“We already have a very active peer mentoring program,” Dyer said. “But we’re extending that message to educate our students about promoting kindness and speaking up when someone is being bullied.”

With the state’s anti-bullying week to conclude on Friday, there’s no better time like the present to start spreading the word and all this week, the student leaders have been tasked with giving their classmates a simple assignment each day.

Those assignments range from giving out five compliments to making sure no one is sitting alone in the cafeteria.

Seventh-grader Julia Brockney said she won’t soon forget her visit to UNH.

“It was pretty inspiring,” she said. “There’s just so much to be learned, things like how we can all stand up for someone who’s being bullied.”Eighth-grader Jeff Cieslikowski said he was particularly touched by hearing stories of adults who’d been bullied as children.“You really can overcome this,” he said.

Eighth-grader Caroline Russell echoed that sentiment.

“It’s true,” Russell said. “A lot of people who were bullied as kids have gone on to be some pretty successful adults.”

Russell said she’s enjoyed being a peer mentor.

“This is an experience not many people get to have,” Russell said. “But it’s great to know you’ve helped someone else.”

“Unfortunately, people aren’t always so nice,” she added. “But when we hear something said, it’s good to speak up.”

Cieslikowski said part of his job as a peer mentor is to reach out to incoming sixth-graders, many of whom feel overwhelmed and lonely in their new surroundings.

“We all need a bit of comforting sometimes,” he said. “Middle school can get pretty tough.”aguilmet@newstote.com


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