Manistee Middle School students tackle bullying issue

MANISTEE — Usually when a teacher hands out an assignment, each individual student benefits from that particular task.

Seventh grade Manistee Middle School students from Brian Veine's video production class take their pose against bullying. The student created a video called "Bully Free Zone" that promotes students taking a stand against bullying in the schools.(Ken Grabowski/News Advocate).

Seventh grade Manistee Middle School students from Brian Veine’s video production class take their pose against bullying. The student created a video called “Bully Free Zone” that promotes students taking a stand against bullying in the schools.(Ken Grabowski/News Advocate).

However, when Manistee Middle School video production teacher Brian Veine handed out an assignment tohis seventh grade class to create a video about the harm of bullying, the educational value from the experience was three-fold.

The first educational component that came into play was the students learned how to make a video that could deliver an important message. Veine wanted them to not only make a video, but to do it in a way that could hit home with both students and adults showing the harm of bullying.

Student Hailie Shack said the message they wanted to deliver was a well thought out process.

“We started organizing by doing a lot of brainstorming as the first two days we were still making up ideas before we started filming,” Shack said.

A second learning part of the assignment was to gain facts about what bullying is and what someone should do if they are being bullied by others. The third learning part of this assignment was to learn how to be an advocate against bullying and to  spread the word by educating their peers.

What they created was a video titled “Bully Free Zone.” It delivered many messages the students wanted to send to help others who are being bullied. What really hit home on that point was at the end of the video the whole class recited the words “Step up, so others don’t get stepped on.”

School officials agree that bullying is a local, state and national problem. It has been proven that bullying starts at the elementary level and peaks at the middle school where Veine’s students are currently located. Statistics further show that 67 percent of students feel schools respond poorly to bullying, and that is why Veine’s students wanted to send a message that it is of concern to everyone.

Throughout the video words would pop up in different sequences that carried a great deal of meaning to the nature of bullying. Each word is a stark reminder of what it does to a young person to be bullied.

Veine said they wanted everyone to have some duty in the creation of the video.

“We basically had everyone in the class become part of the video and that made a difference,” he said.

Student Andrew McGaffigan said that despite being an assignment, it also proved to be a fun learning experience.

“We also had a lot of fun making this video,” said McGaffigan. “It was a lot of work, but as we were about to finish it, we would think of more suggestions and they became great ideas. That was when we realized this can be really good.”

Veine said having that proverbial light bulb go off in the student’s heads that they did make a difference with this video was what made the project even more fulfilling. It is being shown around the school in their advisory classes and the message is beginning to hit home.

“They took ownership of it, and I think this is one of the biggest things they learned from this assignment,” said Veine. “It is not the video itself that is putting the message out. The students took ownership and when I hear them clap after we played it today it tells me they not only like it, but they are proud of their work.”

Veine said what made the difference was the way the students were authentic in their message. They didn’t just focus on facts, but more importantly they put their attention on solutions.

“That is the part that people will remember,” said Veine. “You also learned that to create something good takes work and it took a couple of weeks to finish this video. The production part was hard and many times we had to do it several times to get it right. But we wanted everyone involved because that allows us to take ownership.”

They hope the net result will be that becoming educated on the subject will cause the amount of bullying to decrease.

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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