ERLANGER, Ky. -- Students at St. Henry District High School are performing their fall play on a topic that hits close to home for many – bullying.
“The Bullying Collection” is a series of short plays penned by 10 playwrights. Each vignette presents bullying in a different way, covering such topics as cyberbullying, a school shooting, suicide and the long-term impact of being bullied.
“I had two options: a comedy and this play,” said drama teacher Emily Himonidis. “My advanced drama class read this play, and together we discussed the message. They decided it was an important play to be shared.”
Twenty to 30 percent of school-age children and teenagers report being bullied in some form – physical, verbal, social or cyber. A much larger number – 70 percent – say they have witnessed bullying, according to StopBullying.gov, a website managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and providing resources about bullying.
“We chose the message ‘give a voice, start a conversation’ and that is what we hope will be taken away from the show,” Himonidis said. “We hope that the audience will recognize that bullying happens every day in different circumstances and different situations, and hopefully people are willing to start stepping up and starting a conversation so it doesn’t continue.”
Preparing for the play during the last two months has had an impact on the 60 St. Henry students that are involved in the production, either behind the scenes or on the stage.
Senior Noah Cullen said he is now much more aware that his words can sometimes offend his classmates, even if that was not his intention.
“This play has taught me to be more cautious about what I say, because I joke around a lot with my friends and they might take something offensively,” Cullen said.
Several St. Henry students said they have silently witnessed bullying from the sidelines, and they hope that performing this play will encourage others to stand up to bullying.
“The play is helping us to come together and support one another more,” said senior Felicity Seibt. “A lot of the scenes are personal to a lot of the kids that will come to see it or that are in it. I think we now have an expectation for a resolution, this hope that it will get better and the knowledge that we have this whole love and support behind us.”
Senior Becky Goebel said she was at first hesitant to perform in the play because of the personal connection she felt to the stories.
“I’m so happy we decided to do this, and hopefully people will take a message from it,” Goebel said. “Personally, the play has taught me it is all right to speak out and go to someone you trust. You don’t have to face all of your problems by yourself.”
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20-21 and 2 p.m. Nov. 22 in Millay Hall at St. Henry. Tickets are $5 and are available at the door or in advance during school hours at the St. Henry District High School office, 3755 Scheben Drive in Erlanger.