Scranton Middle School is taking a proactive approach in educating students about anti-bullying this year.
Students were assigned to read The Revealers by Doug Wilhelm over the summer. The Revealers - a book about middle school students dealing with daily harassment from other kids - is just one aspect of the school's approach to anti-bullying. In addition, students were divided by grade and gender to sit through special assemblies on Friday.
Boys attended the production of Word while girls attended Mean Girls. Both shows were put on by the Jewish Ensemble Theatre (JET), a professional theater group from West Bloomfield.
The boys assembly focused more on physical and emotional aspects of bullying while the girls assembly dealt with emotional bullying as well as cyber-bullying, according to Scranton Principal Mark Wilson.
"The reason we split the kids isn't so much to keep the boys away from the girls, but rather bullying tends to look different based upon gender, so we try to address it in that way," Wilson said. "What we know about bullying is that the bystander is a very important piece of the puzzle - not watching it happen and not staying silent. We are continuing to reinforce those messages (from The Revealers) so that Scranton continues to be a safe and pleasant environment for all of our kids."
The productions are part of JET's educational theatre program, which travels to about 30 to 40 schools educating elementary, middle and high school students about bullying.
Jan Cartwright, the JET actress who plays the part of the psychologist counseling both the bully and the victim in Words, said the group holds talk-backs after each performance to give the students a chance to respond to what they just saw.
"Kids need to know that it's okay to stand up for someone else and we all have to be decent human beings," Cartwright said.