In recognition of October being National Bullying Prevention Month, last week Peekskill Middle School welcomed the “Don’t Be a Monster” anti-bullying campaign to their building. The program is part of a nation-wide campaign that aims to promote a safe learning environment while teaching students about the serious dangers of bullying.
The event was presented by Ulster County’s Headless Horseman Hayrides & Haunted Houses, who have partnered with five other large haunted attractions to bring the campaign to local middle schools across the country. The program features an informative PowerPoint, an anti-bullying video and an in-person appearance by the video’s star, a monster named “Frank Shelly.” Frank is helped to overcome being bullied by his peers when he realizes that “bullies are the real monsters.”
“Bullying is a very serious problem facing kids today,” said Michael Jubie, the owner of Headless Horseman. “Our goal is to reach out to as many schools as we can with this important message.”
The presentation also involved a question and answer session where students were able to discuss different forms of bullying, including cyber-bullying, which has become an increasing concern to many parents and educators.
“It used to be that your home was the safe place to go to get away from people who were threating you,” said the presentation’s host, Ryan Dutcher. “Now because of cell phones and computers, bullies can target their victims 24/7. It’s a whole new thing than it used to be.”
The program’s message was embraced by those in attendance and the event concluded with a powerful moment as one student opted to come to the stage to share their own experience with being bullied. The individual was met with applause and a standing ovation from their peers.
“The video and presentation related to bullying made a profound impact on our students and staff,” said Peekskill Middle School Principal, Dr. David Fine. “The motto, "don't be a monster" is another tool for us to remind, support, and discuss within our teaching and learning environment. An educator’s focus remains two fold; academic support and success as well as emotional well-being and intelligence for all stakeholders. It was positive, well received, and fit into our school mission.”