McHarg students sing and sign against bullies
RADFORD — Students at McHarg Elementary spent last Friday morning singing new songs and learning sign language all in the name of “Character Rules,” an anti-bullying program.
Ken Lankford and Beth Corzine performed as the duo String Celebration and led students in songs that told bullies “Don’t Laugh at Me” and those being bullied, “I Will Be Your Friend.”
The duo usually travels to elementary and middle schools throughout North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Occasionally, String Celebration travels into Georgia and Tennessee.
McHarg guidance counselor Pam Chitwood said String Celebration was invited to the school as a developmentally appropriate way to reinforce the school’s Olweus Program, a national campaign designed to reduce and prevent bullying in schools.
For McHarg, the Olweus Program is provided through a grant-funded partnership with New River Community Services. McHarg’s Parent School Association also provided extra funds so the school could host two smaller shows Friday rather than one large show, Chitwood added.
“We chose this show because it included music and movement, which is always appealing to our students,” Chitwood said. “The songs they performed were about concepts such as healthy expression of feelings, friendship, empathy, respect, responsibility and teamwork.”
Chitwood said those concepts are taught and reinforced during “morning meetings,” which are a key component of the Olweus Program, as well as the social portion of their classroom guidance program.
String Celebration, Lankford said, was born in the late 1990s when the duo would team up to play folk music at their local churches and community functions, but it quickly evolved into what it is now.
Corzine taught elementary music part time and was asked to come up with something to celebrate Read Across America Day. She enlisted the help of Lankford, and 13 years later, the two now offer six different shows that they routinely perform for elementary and middle schools.
Lankford and Corzine engage the children in several ways, but music and movements are used to capture the attention of each student. The movements include American Sign Language.
String Celebration is aimed at children of all ages, and Lankford said the duo tries to use terms the kids will understand. The younger children may not understand what bullying is, but all of them understand being laughed at or being picked on, Lankford said.
“We’ve only presented this program at a few schools, and the response has been very positive,” Lankford said.
“Several teachers have reported to us that their kids left the program singing one of the songs.”
The duo performed two shows at McHarg on Friday and visited a class of 4-year-old preschoolers to play songs for them. But students in the class taught String Celebration a song and dance of their own.
“There was an air of happy excitement throughout the school,” Lankford said.
The Roanoke Times | 381-8627
No Comments »
No comments yet.