Taking a stand

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© Richard Gillard/Acorn Newspapers
John Clark, a student from Los Osos High School in Rancho Cucamonga, performs at Adolfo Camarillo High School as part of an anti-bullying presentation on Oct. 18. © Richard Gillard/Acorn Newspapers
It was an ugly scene inside Adolfo Camarillo High School’s gym last week.Students called each other derogatory names, spread vicious gossip and shouted racial epithets toward one another as fellow teens watched in silence.

The acts and words were part of a staged performance during an anti-bullying campaign at the high school on Oct. 18.

A student group called STAND UP (Socially Together And Naturally Diverse United Performers) from Los Osos High School in Rancho Cucamonga presented two skits to demonstrate how bullying physically and emotionally impacts high school students.

Founded in 1994 by Los Osos teacher Brian Jeffrey, the 20-student club travels to high schools and conventions across the state to spark conversation about racism and discrimination.

“Schools are just a reflection of society, and this causes schools to have discussions about bullying and intolerance,” Jeffrey said. “Hopefully (the ACHS students) will walk away knowing to watch their words, be sensitive to the needs of others and not judge people on their skin color, sexual orientation, religion or physical abilities.”

The Los Osos students acted out a classroom scene and a lunchtime scene where the teens yelled epithets to put down Asians, Native Americans, whites, Latinos, blacks, gays, lesbians and the disabled.

All the jokes, names and stories in the skits are based on reallife experiences of the STAND UP members.

“I joined (the club) because I’ve been discriminated against, and I saw this as an opportunity to make a difference,” said Patti Minchell, a 17-year-old senior at Los Osos. “It’s important to know everyone is equal and we’re all human. We’re all in this world together.”

Those real-life examples were what made last week’s presentation stand out from other anti-bullying assemblies, said McKeghan Tackett, 17-year-old student body president at ACHS.

“It was a lot different hearing those stories from other kids instead of parents or counselors because (the students) are actually going through it,” McKeghan said.

Camarillo High’s student body government will discuss how to stop bullying on and off the high school campus, she said.

Students from dozens of other high schools across the country have started their own STAND UP clubs modeled after the one begun at Los Osos. McKeghan said Camarillo students will look into creating their own club to address bullying.

Julie Riedmiller, ASB adviser, helped organize the anti-bullying student assembly in conjunction with International Day for Tolerance on Nov. 16.

About 20 percent of high school students are bullied, according the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“(STAND UP) brought up bullying in a comical and satirical way, and now this opens the lines of communication so we can talk about it in a real-life setting,” she said.

Riedmiller said the presentation aimed to combat all types of teen bullying, including physi- cal, verbal and cyber.

Teachers and administrators have more experience with tackling traditional types of discrimination, said Taylor Thomas, a junior,

Cyberbullying, she said, is Patrick’smore common for today’s high school students.

Cyberbullying uses technology to harass another person, usually through email, texting, chat rooms and social networking sites.

“Facebook and texting are the worst because people can spread things about you to everyone, because everyone sees everybody’s Facebook,” said Taylor, 16. “People talk about each other because they try to fit in and they think they’ll be cooler. There’s a lot of bullying cliques.”

School staff can only do so much and then it’s up to the students to stop bullying, said John Clark, a Los Osos senior who has been in the STAND UP group for two years.

“ I saw how people treated others if they weren’t in the cool group, and I never wanted to be a part of that. . . .” said Clark, Episcopal18. “ There are all different people, but I accept them the way they are because that’s theDay way they want to live their life, and they accept me.”

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