Back To School: Students Learn to Prevent Bullying

Taproot Theatre’s Road Company teaches bullying and cyberbullying prevention

Taproot Theatre presents their new play Treasure Ally at two Kirkland schools in September: - Friday, September 24, 9am – Rose Hill Elementary - Thursday, September 30, 2pm – Helen Keller Elementary

As students are abuzz with back-to-school excitement, for some autumn is a time of anxiety. Bullying directly affects as many as one in four students, studies show, and technologies such as e-mail, social networking sites, blogs and text messaging have extended the potential for bullying from the playground into cyberspace. Using the power of storytelling to help combat the issue, Taproot Theatre’s Road Company launches a new season of touring educational plays to schools with the world premiere of Don’t Tell Jessica… on Friday, September 10, at Vashon Island’s McMurray Middle School (a private performance for the school). Guided by Seattle-based Committee for Children’s acclaimed bullying-prevention curricula, the Road Company teaches students how to respond to—and even prevent—bullying and cyberbullying. The Road Company’s method is simple: Present a captivating story with compelling characters, and weave lessons on respect and bullying prevention into it. Then when it’s over, the actors interact with the students, reinforcing the lessons. One look at the statistics is enough to show the urgency. In the United States, 15-25% of students report being bullied, and 15-20% report bullying others, according to the “Stop Bullying Now!” website of the Health Resources and Services Administration. In some cases bullying has led to suicide. For the offenders, it can lead to suspension, expulsion or even criminal charges. In Washington, nearly 15,000 students were suspended and 442 expelled in 2008-2009, according to data published by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction last January. In King County alone, 2,231 students were suspended and 89 expelled. In Washington, a new expanded anti-bullying law took effect in June, stating that although a law had been put in place to prohibit harassment, intimidation and bullying, the problem had failed to decline. The new law expands efforts, requiring schools to institute policies regarding harassment, intimidation and bullying, and requires each school district to appoint one individual to be the primary contact on the issue. Don’t Tell Jessica…--one of four plays in the 2010/2011 touring repertoire—teaches students the dangers of gossip, rumors and cyberbullying and the consequences their actions can have. The season also features the brand-new Treasure Ally, along with the popular Super School and New Girl. Taproot Theatre commissioned Bethany Wallace and Josh Hornbeck to write the scripts. Touring to schools throughout the Puget Sound region and across the Pacific Northwest, the Road Company has performed for over one million students since it began touring social-issues plays a quarter of a century ago.

Taproot Theatre’s Road Company has been touring dynamic social-issue plays to students throughout the Pacific Northwest since 1985. The Road Company reaches tens of thousands of students each year with productions that address relevant social issues and provide youth with safe steps to approach them.  In addition to the touring productions, Taproot Theatre provides teachers’ guides and resources to facilitate classroom discussion and increase the effectiveness of the message.  The actors are also available for individual classroom visits. To book a show, contact Taproot’s Director of Outreach at 206.529.3669 or touring@taproottheatre.org.

The Road Company is supported by The Charles Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences, The Seattle Foundation, 4Culture, ArtsFund and PONCHO.