written by Cheryl Keffer Staff Writer of Kent County News
WORTON-A couple hundred new members were
initiated into the bully-stoppers club last week. The “secret handshake”
is an I-see-you gesture to the eyeball, as in “eye” see you being a bully.
The Worton Elementary students hip-hopped
their way through the topic April 1 then pledged to not be bullies and to be a friend to someone who was being bullied. And they promised to report it.
“We believe that everybody in our
school has the right to feel safe and free from bullying,” the student said, their voices echoing off the walls of the
The combination lecture and dance lesson
was given by Tamika Johnson, Ms. Black Maryland 2005. A Kent
native and product of the public school system, Johnson studied drama at Washington
College, graduating in 2004. She
now works for the Local Management Board as a program monitor.
She also founded and runs Forever A Conqueror
Productions, a motivational speaking company, and specializes in topics of dating violence, sexual assault, and the dangers
of drugs and alcohol, as well as bullying.
After rallying the students with a booming
“good morning” and “are you ready to have fun?” Johnson asked the students if they knew what a bully
The responses varied.
“They steal your lunch money,”
offered one student.
“They punch you in the face,”
“They threaten you and act like they’re
going to hurt you,” added another.
Johnson complimented their answers with
a big smile, but then was somber for a second.
“Did you know that you can be a bully
if you don’t let someone play with you?” she asked.
“Then you won’t make friends,”
shouted one of the students.
“It’s true,” Johnson
replied with a laugh, “because nobody likes a bully”
Sometimes people become bullyies when they
take out their hurt feelings or frustration on others. Others do it for attention
or because they think it’s funny, Said Johnson.
“But just because you’re mad,
doesn’t give you the right to hurt someone’s feelings,” she added.
The students echoed Johson in her anti-bullying
vesion of stop, drop, and roll- “Stop, think, and don’t do it!”
They listed all the people that could help,
in the event that they were being bullied.
Then they danced.
Following Johnson’s instructions,
the crow learned a few dance moves then put them to music. They got the hang
of it pretty quickly, laughing and twirling and bumping each other.
“Everybody likes to dance,”
Johnson. “And nobody said anything mean to each other.”
Dancing for bully-free fun is effective
because dance is a universal language, Johnson said after the program. “I
figure if dance can transcend language and cultural barriers, it can definitely teach children tolerance…Because students
are taught the dance at the same time, there isn’t any room for ‘singled out superstars’- everyone is in
the same boat and must help each other.”
As the assembly ended, the students sat
back down, quietly listening to their principal’s instructions.
Usually they would file out of the cafeteria
in quiet, single-file lines, but since it was Friday, “Mrs J.” let them dance their way back to class- quiet and
single file, but boogie-ing all the way.