Several seniors who will participate in Thursday’s TEAM School graduation exercises have been involved in a unique project addressing bullying and suicide prevention.
Tori Bullard, A’Leah Duncan, Kathryn Hays, Travis Johnson, Brisco Patterson, Destini Sepulveda, Nayanna Simpson and Jordan Weinberg are members of the TEAM School leadership program who have written and presented a series of dramatic monologues at Smith and Wheat middle schools. Their presentations focused on the importance of speaking up against bullying and knowing the warning signs of suicide.
“Speak Up!” centers on a well-adjusted, high-performing student who becomes the target of bullying, with devastating results. The seniors, along with TEAM students Patricia Cotton, Eddie Garcia, Danny Piña and Colby Suratt portray the teachers, friends, family and the best friend who became the bully.
Sepulveda plays her high school’s brightest star, whose light begins to fade under the pressure of cyber bullying. The harassment begins when Sepulveda’s character is moved to the starting position on the basketball team, bumping her best friend down to second string. Those around her either turn away, frustrated by their inability to help, or fail to notice the changes taking place in Rochelle’s demeanor.
“I play the main character, Rochelle, who is a great student, a happy person, someone you would never think would contemplate suicide,” Sepulveda said. “I have that same kind of happy, upbeat personality. I think that’s why they picked me for the role — and I really wanted to do it.
“Just going through the play and being that person has made me more sensitive to others and what is going on in their lives. You need to be careful what you say because it can truly hurt others.”
TEAM School Counselor Heather Brister said the students in the Speak Up! cast were hand picked for the project, which she proposed.