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Mural to combat bullying
[February 20, 2013]

Mural to combat bullying

Feb 20, 2013 (Daily News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The symbols representing Bowling Green High School on the mural date to 1908 and 1946, but the issue is a modern-day menace.

Students at Western Kentucky University and BGHS students worked Tuesday in the art room to complete a large mural planned for the school's lunchroom. The project is part of an anti-bullying awareness campaign being conducted by WKU journalism seniors Drew Mitchell, Becky Morris, Kelsey Layer, Elizabeth Floore and Cameron Franey.

The symbols on the mural -- sports, academics, the iconic "H," two rings to represent the back-to-back state football championships, music, an olive branch and the Purple Spirit -- were devised during discussions of the BGHS Renaissance Class, teacher Olivia Perdue said.

"This is a way to look at life through art," said Andee Rudloff, education director of the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center. The BGHS icons show a sense of ownership. "Those who are bullied and those who bully have this in common," the education director said.

"These symbols bring the school together," Perdue said. "And, everyone is equal." The project saw 130 freshmen, 24 sophomores, 214 juniors and 29 seniors surveyed, for a total of 409 students. Seventy-eight percent of students defined bullying as abuse while 77.3 percent of the students defined bullying as name calling. The survey showed 36.5 percent of students think bullying is occasionally a problem at BGHS and 61.8 of the students said they knew someone who had been bullied in the past 12 months.

Vicki Bagwell, WKU faculty advisor for the WKU School of Journalism and Broadcasting, said the awareness campaign will be submitted along with two others originating at WKU for the national Bateman Case Study Competition, conducted by the Public Relations Student Society of America. One WKU team is working with the Carol Martin Gatton Academy for Mathematics and Science and the other is working in Owensboro. Gatton team members are seniors Taylor Phillips, Ashton Skates, Dawn Wientjes, Shauntez Clay and Ashley Lewis. Owensboro team members are Somer Dunaway, Alex LeForge, Katrina Metoyer, Lauren Wells and Camille Coltrain.

The students researched bullying attitudes for ages 14 to 18 in the Bowling Green Independent School District and plan awareness programs this month. Next month, the students will design their public relations proposal and send it to the Bateman to be judged. The results will be released by the end of April.

"I think we've got a good group of students here," said Mitchell. "This is a neat opportunity for them to work on a project bigger than themselves." A forum will be at 6 p.m. Thursday at BGHS for parents about cyberbullying -- bullying activities online -- and BGHS freshman will hear from panelists Friday about bullying. Included on the panel is Toyah Robey from the Kentucky Department of Education.

Mitchell said the survey showed students don't have a clear-cut idea of what bullying is.

"As in anywhere, bullying is an issue," he said. "Even one act can hurt someone for the rest of their life." Morris said the survey indicated parents aren't aware of so-called cyberbullying, bullying that occurs on the Internet or through Twitter and Facebook.

Nineteen percent of the 122 parents surveyed said bullying happened both online and in person and only 25.4 percent of the parents "feel somewhat capable" of dealing with a cyberbullying situation.

Of the 38 BGHS teachers surveyed, 78.9 percent think bullying is occasionally a problem and 34.2 percent have witnessed bullying online.

___ (c)2013 the Daily News (Bowling Green, Ky.) Visit the Daily News (Bowling Green, Ky.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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