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Uniontown Area High School senior brings in Steelers QB Charlie Batch to address bullying

| Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, 12:51 a.m.
Alexandra Piccolomini, a Uniontown Area High School senior, fields questions Thursday concerning bullying issues at the school. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch attended the assembly. He was contacted by Piccolomini to speak to the school's ninth- and 10-grade students about bullying issues. Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier feb 14 2013
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch embraces Caitlyn Conaway, 14, an eighth-grade home-schooled student in the Uniontown Area School District after Batch spoke to ninth- and 10th-grade students on Thursday at the high school about bullying. The speaking engagement was arranged by Alexandra Piccolomini, a senior at Uniontown Area High School. Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier

Bullies come in every size and every age. Realizing that most children are the victims of bullying at one time or another in their lives, Uniontown Area High School senior Alexandra Piccolomini decided to so something about it.

Piccolomini, 17, organized an assembly at the school for freshmen and sophomores that addressed the subject of bullying. She also brought in a celebrity — Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch — to further her cause to help stop bullies.

“I think that we all have gotten called a name or picked on at some time in our lives,” Piccolomini said. “I want students to realize that it really shouldn't be that way. It starts at such a young age, and it is something that needs to be addressed.”

Uniontown principal Bob Manges said the school welcomed the input and interest from the senior, who was holding the event simply because she felt strongly about the plight of bullying.

“She finished her senior project at the beginning of the school year,” Manges said, “so this is really just something that she felt strongly about. She took an interest in bullying, and she wanted to do something to try to make a difference.”

Manges said that Piccolomini came to them with several suggestions on how the issue could be addressed.

“She had lots of ideas,” Manges said. “She is senior and a student leader, and we encouraged her because we felt she might be someone that her fellow students would listen to and respect.”

To add even more excitement to the assembly, Piccolomini invited Batch to speak to the students.

“He is such a nice guy and so down to earth, and he is someone that may be able to reach out to these kids,” Piccolomini said.

The assembly featured a brief presentation by Piccolomini, who showed a video about a young student who committed suicide after being bullied endlessly by her fellow students.

“Bullying goes on every day, everywhere,” Piccolomini said. “This is something that goes on in schools across America.”

Batch then took the stage and related his own story of bullying and how it affected him.

“I was a victim of bullying,” Batch told the crowd, explaining that his small stature made him the brunt of jokes and ridicule. “It wasn't cool. Now I want to see if I can make a difference.”

Batch had the students repeat in unison: “I will treat everyone with dignity and respect.”

“It's simple,” Batch said, “if you don't want to be treated a certain way, then don't treat others that way.”

Batch encouraged students to report any bullying that they may see, and for those who are the victims, don't be afraid to speak up.

“I know what it feels like to be picked on, and it doesn't feel good,” Batch said, “but it is something that does not ever have to happen. There is a right way and a wrong way to be — and bullying isn't right.”

Batch said he doesn't feel bullying has increased over the years, but the attention to its effects and awareness surrounding its dangers has increased.

“People are realizing and seeing that it's not cool,” Batch said. “It's very important that we continue to educate people, to make them aware. Assemblies like this are very important in that we can see what bullying does. We don't want it to continue to young people down the line.”

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.

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