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Music and a message: No tolerance for bullying (Chico Enterprise-Record)

Published by Chico Enterprise-Record

Oct. 11, 2018

Article by Mary Nugent

CHICO — Students at Marsh Jr. High cheered, danced and sang along with Lizzie Sider, who visited the school on Thursday with music and a message that bullying is never OK.

Sider, a 20-year-old singer and songwriter from Boca Raton, Florida, brought her enthusiasm and positive attitude to the 400 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders who attend Marsh, and fifth-graders from Little Chico Creek and Parkview schools.

On the school’s grassy area, she sang songs the students would know, including her own “Butterfly” and Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.”

Besides the fun of music, Sider talked with the kids about bullying. The subject is the premise for her school visits.

“I was bullied when I was in elementary school. I was always nice to everybody else. I loved my school, but I was just the kind of person who was a target for bullying. It was a time in my life when I learned to be stronger, and that’s important because there will always be people who try to knock us down — in sports, in business — every day,” said Sider.

She said it was a good idea that fifth-graders joined the event at Marsh Jr. High. “That’s when everything starts, so it’s good to get them when they’re little kids.”

Her audience paid attention.

“She said you shouldn’t let bullying get in your way,” said Gabriella Rhodes, 13 and an eighth grader.

Her friend Ashley Saligan, also 13, agreed. “She talked about how when she was younger, she was bullied. Then one day she stood up for herself.”

Ryan Willard, a sixth-grade teacher at Marsh, kept an eye on the controlled chaos after Sider’s concert, when she signed autographs and smiled for selfies. “Her anti-bullying message is great, and the kids loved the music,” said Willard.

“She sang songs that kids would know, so that was fun. She’s really a country music singer. I liked what she said about not putting up with bullies,” said 13-year-old Colby Kennedy.

Don Sider said his daughter’s appearance is free to schools. “She does this for free because she’s on a mission. She has a private foundation, but it only covers a small portion of expenses. Her passion is to get out there with kids, to sing and talk about things she wants to talk about,” he said.

Lizzie is on tour, with Marsh being among the first of 22 performances in California, Texas, North Carolina and Illinois.

“This is the third time Lizzie has been to our school,” said Lisa Reynolds, activities coordinator at Marsh. “She said she likes coming here.”

Sider said she still remembers the first time she appeared at Marsh. “It was 2013 and I was 15. Now I spend most of my time between New York and L.A. And I love being with these kids.”


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