Area students learn to recognize bullying
Frenship High School drama students shared some wisdom gained about bullying with other students in a leadership program sponsored by the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce last week.
Four short skits were presented to students in the leadership program called “A New Century Leadership” on Oct. 24.
Drew Weesner, the drama teacher, said all of the skits were based on true stories. Two were based on events recounted to the Frenship Independent School District Police, and the others were based on events that happened to two Frenship teachers when they were in school.
FISD Officer Scott Prothro said he was asked two years ago to start talking to students about bullying. He said he worked with drama teachers at FHS and in Frenship middle schools to get the message out because he knows that students learn more from each other.
Prothro addressed the leadership students before the skits, telling them they were hand-picked for their leadership skills from a pool of 200 applicants in the Lubbock area.
“I want you to go back to where you come from as real life leaders” against bullying, Prothro said.
Each of the skits that followed consisted of a depiction of the bullying followed by the “victim” sharing how the incident made himself or herself feel and how he or she coped.
One skit, about a student who was teased about being gay because he enjoyed choir and theater over sports and dressed differently, ended with the student being punched out.
Weesner stood up and took the stage. The story, Weesner said, was his.
“People started the rumors that I was gay,” he said. He ignored it for some time, until the incident where he got hit.
“That was the moment that I was forced to say, ‘This is a problem,’ ” he said.
After he got help from parents and school officials, things got better.
Weesner said the effects still haunt him, even as he is a teacher. He worries about what he wears and what people might say about him.
“I have incredible friends and I have a beautiful, incredible wife,” Weesner said. Still, he worries.
But he encouraged the students to get help if they are in a similar situation.
“If you’re being bullied, get help,” Weesner said.
Another teacher, Kayci K. Smith, is now the cheerleader sponsor at FHS. Her story related how she ate lunch in the bathroom for six months in middle school because of a bully.
Smith said to this day, she doesn’t understand what motivated her bully, and why she hated Smith so much. She didn’t confide in her friends, fellow cheerleaders or teachers.
“There was just something that that girl had on me that I cannot explain to this day,” she said. “But it still haunts me, to this day.”
A teacher realized that she was eating in the bathroom each day and asked her to eat in her classroom. After two weeks, the teacher finally got Smith to tell her what had been happening.
Smith teaches special education classes, and has some of her cheerleaders and student athletes come in and have lunch with her students, which she said helps her students to be a part of the school in a way they might not otherwise experience.
“Everybody is important in this world. We want you guys, as leaders, to understand that,” Smith said. “There’s always someone out there who’s going through something that you may not know.”
As leaders, Smith said the students in the audience can help others.
Weesner said the skits have helped students and teachers who have seen them.
“I’ve seen the kids recognize it more, and I’ve seen the teachers be able to recognize it,” Weesner said.
The skits for the leadership students were followed by another presentation from Keith Ayers about his son, Jeremy Ayers, a former Frenship High School football player.
“Jeremy was not bullied,” Ayers said. “He was the one who would stand up to bullies.”
Ayers told the story of the warning signs he and others ignored before Jeremy took his own life in the spring of 1996.
“The red flags were being camouflaged,” Ayers said.
He said only recently, one of his son’s former classmates contacted him to tell him that he had felt guilty over the suicide for years. He said he knew something was wrong with Jeremy, but hadn’t known what it was or what to do.
“He said, ‘I should have done something,’ ” Ayers said.
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among teens, Ayers said. He challenged the leadership students to help their fellow students, to let their voices be heard and to do good.
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