Published by JH News & Guide
Mar. 2, 2016
Written by Frances Moody
Kelly Elementary students swarm in for a hug from Lizzie Sider after her performance last week in the school’s gymnasium. Sider, a 17-year-old singer and songwriter, visited the school and sang for students as part of her Bully Prevention Tour.
Kelly Elementary kids learn to express themselves without fear of being judged.
Kelly Elementary School students shed their metaphorical cocoons Thursday as they danced to a song performed by Lizzie Sider.
Parading around the school’s gym, the kids, who were also joined by a few students from Wilson Elementary, learned to be unafraid to sing as loud as possible or to dance in a crazy and fun style.
Their fearlessness was the point of Sider’s visit. The 17-year-old from Florida was there to talk about anti-bullying and to tell kids it’s OK for them to be themselves.
Wearing bracelets etched with Sider’s message, “No one has the power to ruin your day,” the students listened to “Butterfly,” which also has an anti-bullying theme.
“They thought they knew me, plain and shy/But all along I was a butterfly,” Sider’s lyrics go.
Fifth-grader Kate Budge said Sider’s message was inspiring to hear in person.
Kate and her schoolmates have known about Sider’s message for a long time because they have been singing her song in music class for months.
In fact, their love of “Butterfly” is why Sider was at Kelly Elementary School on Thursday.
The students wrote letters to Sider, asking the singer to perform at their school.
Kate said her letter was about how upset she was when she didn’t get into an after-school program. She felt inadequate and judged by her friends. Then she learned something from Sider’s song.
“Her song ‘Butterfly’ really inspired me,” Kate said. “It let me know I will become an amazing human being, even if I’m not in the program.”
When the fifth-grader saw Sider perform she realized that Sider had another message for her. Kate has decided to stick up for her classmate Patrick Ream, who sometimes gets bullied.
“There are definitely people who are mean to Patrick, and I don’t feel like that’s OK,” Kate said.
Although Patrick doesn’t feel like kids are mean to him, he was so happy to know that Sider read his letter. He said he didn’t remember what he wrote, but Sider did.
The singer carried the letters with her to Kelly Elementary School. Patrick’s wrote that she should visit the school because it has an ice rink.
Unfortunately, Sider sprained her ankle when ice skating the day before the concert and wasn’t able to experience the school’s rink.
“But the fact that I had a little ankle situation going on didn’t stop me from coming,” Sider said.
The singer was able to perform her song and make some lasting relationships with the kids who look up to her. One child she connected with was Brianna Clancy, who cried tears of joy when she talked about meeting Sider.
“I was so excited, because I got to meet a star that actually is awesome,” Brianna said.
The fourth-grader said Sider’s song and the conversation she had with Sider taught her about strength, which is something she has needed recently.
Brianna has been fighting pediatric brain cancer, which she said has been very difficult for her.
After talking with Sider, who overcame bullying, Brianna felt reminded that people can conquer some big issues.
Sider said Brianna is the real inspiration, and she is glad to have met her.
“I was talking to her before the assembly,” Sider said. “She kept coming back to say hi. I’ve never seen eyes so bright.”
After the concert ended, kids flocked around Sider, giving her hugs and asking for her signature.
To them, the performance made one thing clear: Their school is full of some amazing students that need support from one another.
Like Sider, Kate was reminded of how wonderful Brianna is after Brianna joined Sider on stage.
“Brianna truly is one of the most amazing and strongest people I have ever met,” Kate said. “She is always the most cheery person. I don’t think we have ever been in a fight that has ever mattered, because she is such a nice person.”
Contact Frances Moody at 305-732-7079 or firstname.lastname@example.org.