A Brave Stance


Miles Bredehoeft, Writer

He begs his mom to let him stay home. He says he is sick, but his mom insists he has to go to school. He feels fine, but doesn’t want to tell his mom he is scared to go to his second day of middle school because of a bully. Senior Kate Brightwell said students use strategies like this everyday to avoid being bullied.

“You cannot just stand by and let bullying happen,” Brightwell said. “Being a bystander is just as bad as being a bully.”

Kate Brightwell started B.R.A.V.E (Bystanders Rising Against Violence Everywhere) her freshman year as a service learning project. Special education teacher Helen Hardgree said a service learning project is an opportunity for to find a project that benefits the community. B.R.A.V.E. combats middle and high school bullying by telling students to stand up against bullies. With the assistance of Hardgree, Brightwell is joined by juniors Ami Nanavaty, Priyanka Rao,  Namana Rao and senior Danni Wang on the board of the group.

“We started having performances at the end of last year,” Brightwell said. “We go and perform the program and skits, then we have a talk back session of how you can combat bullying and what you can do against it. We also hand out bracelets and postcards.”

The skits simulate bullying and how bystanders can react to bullying situations. Brightwell said the bracelets and the postcards they give out to the kids are to show their commitment to rise against bullying and their pledge to do their part in stopping it.

“Our target audience is middle schoolers,” Brightwell said. “Seventh grade is where we really want to hit it. Middle school is just the hardest age to get to know yourself.”

B.R.A.V.E. has done two performances, one for sixth graders and one for seventh graders, and plan to have one performance in October and one performance in November. The performances have not yet been scheduled.

“We try to affect people by uniting a message to stand against [bullying], and to let people know this is no longer okay,” Brightwell said.

Hardgree said she believes B.R.A.V.E. affects the community in several ways through their performances and presence in different situations.

“[The students] are more aware of how their behaviors perpetuate bullying or even in a situation where they are able to step in and stop bullying,” Hardgree said.

Brightwell said how bullying is a problem, and during sometime in their lives, everyone feels the negative effects of it.

“[Bullying] is not okay,” Brightwell said. “It’s just not a part of the childhood experience, and we need to stand up against it, reach out and be a friend.”