Anti-bullying speaker offers lessons at Kittanning Junior High School
It was what Mark Brown refers to as a “daddy moment” several years ago that brought him to Kittanning Junior High School Tuesday afternoon.
A renowned speaker for fundraising company Great American Opportunities, Brown remembers sitting around his television with his wife and kids, watching Disney's animated “Beauty and the Beast.” One scene in particular lent itself to his “daddy moment,” or a chance to teach a life lesson.
“The movie has three main characters: Belle, the Beast and the bad guy – Gaston,” said Brown. “In one scene, Gaston grabs Belle's magic mirror, holds it up and says, ‘Show me the beast!' as Belle tries to say, ‘He's kind, he would never hurt anyone.' But Gaston spreads some nasty rumors, saying, ‘He'll come after your children in the night.' And who do the townspeople believe? Gaston.”
Brown said there isn't much separating Gaston and the angry mob from those who start rumors and everyone who believes them. While the villagers in the movie brandish torches and arrows, Brown said students instead use words as their weapons.
“We don't like what we don't understand,” said Brown. “And when you're in school, being different is often felt a lot more deeply. Nothing spreads faster than a junior high rumor.”
During his 45-minute anti-bullying presentation, Brown, who was born in Jamaica, often bounded across the gymnasium stage, using his thick accent and deep voice to mimic the characters he talked about, much to the joy of his young audience.
“The goal is to have kids think about the power of their words, the impact they can have, to really encourage them to change the way they relate to those who are not like them,” Brown said. “I talk about the fact that maybe kids don't realize what really goes on inside someone else's mind and heart.”
At one point during the assembly, Brown asked anyone in the audience to stand if they knew anyone who had ever been treated like “the Beast.”
Nearly every student stood.
“Then you have to ask yourself,” Brown said. “Are you being Gaston?”
Greg Toth, area representative for Great American Opportunities, said students always react positively to Brown's message and he was excited to bring the 1995 winner of the Toastmasters International World Championship of Public Speaking to Armstrong School District.
Brown spoke earlier in the day to what was described as an enthusiastic audience at Ford City High School.
“Mr. Brown has a fantastic message about the power of words,” Toth said. “I think everyone can relate to his stories and the way he tells them.”
Kittanning Junior High Principal Kirk Lorigan agreed.
“I think you find bullying in a lot of schools and a lot of people pass it off as ‘typical kid behavior,' ” he said.
“And although kids might hear about the right way to treat others from their mom or dad or their teachers and principals, a lot of times, kids just think that's what adults are supposed to say. They need to hear it from someone like (Brown). I think messages like his certainly have an impact on our young people.”
Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- River traffic ‘cause for celebration’ on first weekend of open Armstrong locks
- Boaters expected to represent at Kittanning’s free summer concerts
- Labor board rules in favor of Kittanning union’s complaint against hospital
- Rayburn offering tax breaks to businesses along 2 roads
- Belmont Complex work nearly done
- Dayton man charged with stabbing friend
- Kittanning business celebrates renovations in its 43rd year
- Memorial Day marked with several events in Kittanning
- Police investigating attack on boy near Kittanning Rails to Trails
- Police boost efforts to aid child victims in Armstrong County
- Tight Armstrong commissioner race comes down to absentee votes