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Students Embrace Anti-Bullying Message (Marco Island Sun Times)

Published by Marco Island Sun Times

Mar. 14, 2014

Article by Quentin Roux, Marco Island News

Naturally, there was music in the air when country singer Lizzie Sider paid a visit to Tommie Barfield Elementary School Friday morning.

But the 15-year-old rising star from Boca Raton also had a serious message for the students. An anti-bullying message.

She brought home the message to the students in song and words, one of which was a spirited rendition of Taylor Swift’s “Why You Gotta Be So Mean.”

Another well-received song was a cover of Selena Gomez’ “Who Says.”

Sider is becoming well-known for the song “Butterfly,” which she co-wrote to deal with pain as a result of herself being bullied while at elementary school.

“I used to hide and keep inside,” go the lyrics, “but look at me now; finally comin’ out and I’m wanting to fly; they thought they knew me plain and shy, but all along I was a butterfly. Students, teachers and parents fell silent as Sider told everyone to close their eyes and raise their hands if they’d ever been teased. She specifically used that word, and not the word bullied, but the inference that the former leads to the latter was clear.

The upshot was that about 75 percent of the people in the room indicated being teased at some time.

“It tells you almost all of as at one time have been treated this way,” Sider said.

Her own turnabout occurred when one day on the way to school, her dad proclaimed: “Nobody has the power to ruin your days.”

That led to Sider eventually touring her native state to deliver her anti-bullying message through the medium of singing as well as motivational speaking.

Afterwards, the students’ reactions testified to the power of her presentation.

“I learned that bullying won’t make you feel better, or make you laugh,” wrote Victoria Pruitt back in teacher Cheryl Reinke’s class. “I will apply what I learned because if I ever see anyone getting bullied, or I’m getting bullied, I will make it stop.”

Kayla Charde felt the same way.

“I learned that ‘no-one has the power to ruin your day,’” she wrote in reference to Sider’s dad’s words, “and I will be strong and confident when I get teased.”

A site devoted to the bullying problem that plagues American schools notes that teens in grades 6 through 10 grade are the most likely to be affected.

About 30 percent of students in the United States are regularly involved in bullying either as a victim, bully or both, says the site. Increasingly problematic is cyber-bullying.

— — —

As part of Lizzie’s assembly, Lizzie and the students sing Selena Gomez‘s “Who Says” and Taylor Swift‘s “Mean“.


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