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Freeport students combat bullying

FREEPORT (AP) — Dressed in trench coats, Freeport High School students created a flash mob to deliver a strong message at Lincoln Mall in Freeport. There were songs, plenty of laughter, but the subject was serious. These students hope to make a difference by making a video to address the problem of bullying. The video will be shown on the local broadcast station at the high school, and uploaded to YouTube.

The students converged at the mall recently to film the video. They are all students in the broadcast class taught by Tim Connors. Senior Adam Beach said he was proud to be part of the project to convey the message that bullying is hurtful, and a problem many students face in their every day lives.

"Bullying is emotional and physical abuse and by making this video we hope to lessen the percentage of people who suffer at the hands of others," Beach said. "This is a video that needs to be seen by everyone — we are presenting statistics."

The idea for this video came from JoLynn Sanders, school resource officer at Freeport High School. Sanders approached Connors with the idea to make a video to be shown to all the students at FHS. Sanders said the problem of bullying is all too real.

"I thought it would be best for the students to address their peers, and flash mob is the new trend to do this," Sanders said. "Peers have the most influence on each other.

"We are taking a serious approach to the problems of bullying in our schools and with the various programs and assemblies we have already had, I have seen a change in the kids, but we need to do more," she added.

While school officials try to address this issue, teens often just do not listen to adults. Sanders said peer programs often work, and with the completion of this video, it will be broadcast to Freeport High School students during fifth hour announcements on the Pretzel Pride Network. The video will also be added to the Freeport School District website, Facebook and Twitter.

"We kept what we were doing with this video a secret until today," Connors said Tuesday. "This video should be up and ready to go by next week."

Matt Beintma is a sophomore at Freeport High School. Beintma said he was proud to be part of the strong message to alert his peers that bullying hurts. Beintma should know, he admits he was bullied for six years before he changed schools.

"I was bullied for six years, and I tried to brush it off, and I tried to deal with it head on," Beintma said. "Things are better for me now, but filming this video brings back a lot of bad memories that I would have liked to kept hidden, but if being a part of something like this helps others kids, it is worth it — being bullied hurts."

Connors will be working with his students this week to finish the video.

"This is something the kids really wanted to do — it's about helping others," Connors said.



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