KINGSTON – The message came through video recordings of fellow students and the likes of Justin Bieber, though the middle school students were cheering too loudly to hear the teen idol.
And it was reinforced by live appearances by members of the locally born band Breaking Benjamin and two tiara-adorned pageant titlists:
When you really know bullying, there will be no bullying.
Wyoming Valley West Middle School played off that idea with its annual kNOw Bull Rally. This year's event, held Wednesday after being postponed by Hurricane Sandy, featured a slew of national stars on screen and four local celebrities on stage, along with the mascots of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre minor league hockey and baseball teams.
The crowd grew so loud during the video message by Bieber, Lady GaGa, Adam Lambert and others that it drowned out the audio, but they hushed considerably when Breaking Benjamin bassist Mark James took the podium.
I've been on both sides of the fence, James said, admitting he had bullied others and been bullied. No matter what side you're on, the end result is awful. It's negative energy, and if you give off negative energy it comes back to you.
The old saying ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me' may be partly true, guitarist Aaron Fink told the crowd, but sometimes words last a lot longer and sometimes they are more harsh than physical pain.
The students also heard from Miss Pennsylvania Mid State Cassie Cerulli, a Wyoming Valley West graduate, and Miss Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Kaitlyn Miller, a senior at the high school.
Teacher Jacob Sholtis, who heads the school's kNOw Bull program, read the no bullying pledge students signed on a prominent poster in the lobby, including one of the fundamental ways to prevent bullying – report it.
It reads: I know sticking up for someone is the right thing to do and I won't stand by, I'll stand up.
The rally, which lasted about an hour, was supported by Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bridge. If the number of students who stuck around for photos and autographs of the various speakers and mascots is any measure, the event was a big success.