By Anthony Coelho
The concept of bullying needs no explanation. We’ve all experienced it—whether being directly involved, or just a bystander—bullying has been an ongoing war in schools all across the nation. One school in particular though, located on the corner of N. 5th St. and Harrison Ave., has been “stomping out” bullying in style.
Last Wednesday, Washington Middle School in Harrison hosted its first annual, community-wide Stomp Out Bullying presentation.
The event began with refreshments, baked goods and wristbands provided by the P.T.A. The lobby was decorated with handcrafted posters and banners created by some of the high school students. With a little help from the middle schools’ guidance staff — who like to call themselves the C.H.I.C.A.S. (Counselors Helping Individual Children Achieve Success)—the show featured an opening statement from Student Resource Officer Charles Schimpf, expressing the nature of bullying and how to act otherwise.
“We really wanted to focus on creating a positive vibe,” said Michelle Lopes, Washington Middle School’s head counselor. “We’re giving them an idea of what they should be doing, instead of always telling them what not to do.”
What followed Officer Schimpf’s speech was the talent-filled Poetry Slam, which under the theme of respect, featured the spoken word by Schimpf, WMS teacher Amy Morillo, students Natalie Guimmarra, Tiffany Danielian, and Raymond Pineda.
The Washington Middle School Chorus then took the stage, cheering its listeners by performing their song “Brave”, before making way for Harrison’s first-ever step team.
A hired step instructor choreographed the step dance with help from PE/Health teacher Uril Parrish. The routine is very similar to a uniformed military salute, but instead with an urban twist and a message behind it.
“The students only had eight rehearsal practices before the actual show,” said Lopes. “The talent I saw on that stage tonight was simply remarkable.”
Before the night could come to an end, the nationally recognized West Orange High School Step Team treated the Washington Middle School students to a powerful performance, promoting a sense of unity and enjoyment for all.
With the outcome of the Stomp Out Bullying event being a huge success, it’s no surprise that it will continue to be a part of the Harrison community for years to come. Who knows, maybe one day, Harrison High School will have a step team dedicated to spreading a positive message. Stay tuned.