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Scouts take on bullying at La Cañada High School

Middle schoolers create a campaign that includes a helicopter flyover.

October 09, 2013|By Sara Cardine
  • An aerial view of La Cañada High School where La Cañada's Girl Scout Troop 4771 planned the flyover as the grand finale of a school-wide anti-bullying campaign at LCHS 7/8.
An aerial view of La Cañada High School where La… (Courtesy of Girl…)

Hundreds of middle schoolers lined up on the La Cañada High School football field Friday morning in a series of indecipherable curves. They joked and squirmed, occasionally breaking form until the near-deafening sound of helicopter blades overhead stopped them in their tracks.

“Guys, hands to your sides for now,” shouted LCHS 7/8 Principal Ryan Zerbel through a megaphone.

The helicopter hovered low as someone inside it captured the scene below on film. The shutter snapped on “LCHS 7/8” spelled out in chatty girls and boys above a peace sign, also writ large in student bodies.

When attempting to impart to seventh- and eighth-graders important messages about preventing bullying on campus through trust and relationship-building, it helps to have a few attention-grabbing tricks up your sleeve.

This was something members of La Cañada’s Girl Scout Troop 4771, who planned the flyover as the grand finale of a school-wide anti-bullying campaign at LCHS 7/8, now know as fact. The weeklong program they planned with the cooperation of Zerbel, countless parents and more than 30 community sponsors, culminated Friday morning with a special assembly featuring live music and a keynote address by young actor Calum Worthy.

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Worthy, who plays Dez on the Nickelodeon TV show “Austin & Ally,” spoke frankly about how his budding acting career prevented him from forming solid friendships in school.

“The difference between the best day of my life and the worst day of my life was one person talking to me and bringing me into their circle,” Worthy confided.

He suggested students make lunchtime one big party and be kind to one another, because “the only time you’re uncool is if you make fun of someone or put someone down.”

With bookend performances from Northeast L.A. band the Slightlys, the program included a video presentation depicting stories of teens who died or committed suicide as the result of bullying and cyber-bullying, as well as interviews with 7/8 students who shared their own experiences.

“Make friends, talk to someone,” one girl advised, “Basically, that way you know you’re not alone and everyone is loved, and bullying is not OK.”

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