PLATTSBURGH — With trophy in hand, eighth-grader Pema Dolkar had a request for the audience at the “I Stand Against Bullying” student film festival.
“If you didn’t make a difference yet, start now,” she said. “It’s never too late. And start it with compassion and not just sympathy.”
The Northeastern Clinton Central School student’s call to action was a common message of the third-annual event, held recently at the Cumberland 12 Cinemas in Plattsburgh.
The event was organized by the Task Force Against Bullying, a program under Champlain Valley Educational Services.
The show screened short films made by area students based around the themes of anti-bullying and promoting positive behaviors.
The awards included best overall films in elementary, middle and high school categories, as well as individual awards for best acting performances.
Top winner overall was a film produced by a high-school team from Northern Adirondack Central School comprised of Anna Lashway, Andrew Chase, Cameron Gero, Cheyenne Belrose and Hunter Nantasaeng
Many of the films, including NCCS’s award-winning entry, featured scenes of bullying played out twice: once with the victim facing the teasing alone and again with bystanders stepping in to help.
For Bonnie Black, a member of the Task Force against Bullying, the idea of speaking up when witnessing someone being bullied was one of the most important messages for the audience to take away from the event.
“We can’t leave it just up to the bully, we can’t leave it up to the target,” she said. “It’s the rest of us who actually need to take a stand against the inappropriate, disrespectful behavior.”
Along with anti-bullying messages, students in the 2014 competition were allowed to create films that promoted proper school etiquette.
Beekmantown Central School was given an honorable mention for its etiquette-themed film, “You Don’t Have to be a Superhero.”