By KAITLYN AFFUSO
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Teachers and students from local schools packed a Plattsburgh theater last week to recognize student filmmakers in their fight against bullying.
The “I Stand Against Bullying Awards” honored students who made anti-bullying movies with their own version of the Oscars. Safe Schools, Healthy Students hosted the second-annual event at Cumberland 12 Cinema on Wednesday.
“We needed to do something for bully-prevention,” Safe Schools, Healthy Students Project Administrator Wanda McQueen said. “We just make it fun.”
McQueen said this event creates awareness, which can potentially help prevent bullying. The awards also encourage kids to take a stand.
Adding to the movie-awards theme, this red-carpet event had audience members dressed in suits and gowns. Moriah High School students, who won the Best High School Video award, arrived and left in a Hummer Limousine.
The event included two pre-show performances: Trudeau’s Gymnastics Competitive Team and Mr. E, a magical wizard. Throughout the ceremony, the student videos were played on the big screen and acting awards were presented.
In their video, Lisa Napper’s Saranac Elementary School class of third-graders showcased the kinds of bullying that occurs during bus rides. Their video included a scene of bullying, followed by a solution, turning the scene around and fixing the bullying problem. It was that factor that won the class the Best Elementary School Video award.
Lillie LaVarnnay, a student in Napper’s class, won Best Actor in a Target Role.
Beekmantown Middle School won the Best Middle School video award for empowering the bystander.
Moriah High School’s original video showed the dangers of bullying and how it can lead the victim to self-harm and even suicide, also known as “bullicide.” The video portrayed the side of bullying that the bully usually doesn’t see. However, for the showcasing event, the original video was edited to make it appropriate for the all-ages audience.
Brooke Dever from Moriah High School said the experience was not only a lot of fun but informative as well.
She said the students learned that every 30 minutes, a kid commits suicide. As a group, the students wanted to portray the reality of that impact.
Dever said her team was inspired by “Dear Bully,” a book that was recommended by their teacher, Melissa Reilly. Furthermore, they used the experiences that they were faced with themselves to add in more emotion.
She said the hardest part was combining all ten group members’ ideas together to film a video.
Reilly said “taking the ideas from ten brilliant and original kids and merging them into one video” was the hardest part of the project.
Dever said the coolest part was the friendship they created because they all were from different cliques: jocks, pretty girls, goths and nerds were the main groups, she said.
“A lot of us (group members) weren’t close, and the video brought us together,” Dever said.