The drama room was quiet as we watch the improv game take place. This game was called Freeze, in which people improvise a random scene until someone freezes it, trades with a person on stage, and continues it with a new scene. I sat there next to Sophie*, arguing with myself to go join to get a better grade, even though I’m bad at improv, or stay and not get participation marks. My thoughts were interrupted by someone yelling, “Freeze!” I looked around the room to find the owner of the voice and found Steven*.  I bet half the class groaned inwardly. Steven was a disliked kid who had evidently failed a grade. He was loud, which was to say he shouted his problems to the world in a dramatic complaint. He was sometimes, or maybe often, mean to others. Steven had thrown a ball at my friend’s head several times before she had complained to a teacher. She told me that before, she had felt pity for him, but not anymore. I guess I understood that he was just lonely, having virtually no friends, and hurting, as he was a foster kid.

Steven got up and made his way to the stage. He traded with a girl and said in a silly, girly voice, “Okay, everyone! Sleepover at my house tonight!” This was a typical way to start a scene, but I guess not this time.

I was surprised to hear one girl reply, “Sorry, I think I’m busy.” She walked away. Several others copied her. We all watched in new interest as Steven stood there stupidly, not knowing what to do. This was real drama being performed in front of us. He finally stomped off the stage and sat down on his chair.

Some people protested, saying he needed to stay up there. I told him from across the room, “Steven, it’s just acting. Don’t take it personally.” Even as I said it, I knew it wasn’t true; the kids meant it and everyone knew it.

Sophie turned to me and said, “That wasn’t really acting. They did mean it.” I could only wish it had merely been a part of the play.

The irony of the situation hit me. Our class had recently performed anti-bullying skits, and here was the perfect example right before our eyes. In the skit my group had done, we had all eventually become friends with the bully victim, even the bully herself. But this was real life. No one was going to be friends with him just because bullying was wrong. The people on the stage, who had rejected Steven’s character and scene, would still be popular. Would anything change because of this?

The bell rang, signaling the end of class. I sighed as I walked out of the drama room. Why hadn’t I done anything? Why hadn’t I stood up for bullying? I turned away from the bulletin board in the hallway. “Together we can stop bullying!” it said in bright colors. There had been a perfect opportunity to say that bullying is wrong. But I’m a quiet girl–who would listen to me?

Questions of morals and beliefs and what’s right and wrong swarmed through my mind as I opened my locker. I wasn’t perfect. I just had to accept that. But just because I wasn’t always right didn’t mean I couldn’t try. Today had been something I wouldn’t forget–and would want to–but tomorrow was a whole new beginning.

*names are changed

Check out this video for a really good speech about bullying

 

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