First FHN Assembly to Raise Awareness of Bullying

By Aurora Blanchard

Sophomore Skylar Hardester gives her speech about being transgender during the 3rd hour assembly. One of Hardester's lines during the speech was "My person defines my personality, not my body."
Sophomore Skylar Hardester gives her speech about being transgender during the 3rd hour assembly. One of Hardester’s lines during the speech was “My person defines my personality, not my body.”

Thursday March 7, FHN’s Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), Social Justice Committee, African-American Senior Leaders, and Guidance Office hosted an anti-bullying assembly in the auditorium during second and third hour for classrooms that signed up. Individual students with passes from the Guidance Office or their teachers were also permitted to attend the assembly.

The assembly began with the video “To This Day,” which is a slam poetry piece narrated by  Shane Koyczan about the life of three bullied children in school.

Original writings were presented by freshman Abbey Carpenter, senior Aurianah Jones, junior Clayton Kohler, senior Josh Cartwright, and sophomore Skylar Hardester in that order.

The speakers were broken up into different categories with Powerpoint slides that preceded their speech. Carpenter talked about overcoming depression after she was bullied over text messaging and social media. Jones’ poem titled “Oreo” aimed to break typical stereotypes of African-Americans and mixed African-Americans, where she defined “Oreo” as a cookie, not as an African-American who is trying to act “white.”

“Sometimes people don’t have enough courage to speak about it, so that’s why I’m here,” Jones said.

The next speeches were personal stories from LGBTQ students who shared how they came to accept themselves in uncertain conditions.

Kohler, who found that students at North were very accepting about him coming out, believed he had a positive message to share with his speech.

“I want to make other people who are dealing with their sexuality to feel like they’re okay coming out,” Kohler said.

At the end of the assembly, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ music video “Same Love feat. Mary Lambert” was shown before the bell rang and students returned to their classes.

An estimated 250 students showed up to the assembly according to assembly sponsor Mary Kerr-Grant. This is the first bullying awareness assembly Kerr-Grant has sponsored with Lisa Woodrum.

According to Kerr-Grant, Cartwright, the leader of GSA, was the driving force in planning the assembly, which began back in August.

“[I did it] to inspire change in future FHN students because I’m not going to be here next year,” Cartwright said.

The goal of the assembly, according to Kerr-Grant is to increase awareness of bullying. She believes that bullying is prevalent everywhere, including FHN.

“My hope is that opens the hearts of people to to think before they judge or comment on people’s race, differences, or sexual identity,” Kerr-Grant said.