Posted 1/26/16 (Tue)
By Kevin Killough
Students at Tioga High School and Central Elementary Tuesday learned about the problem of bullying and how to deal with it from Miss North Dakota Delanie Wiedrich.
In her talk, “Bullying: Beyond the ‘B’ Word,” she discussed her own struggles with bullying and depression.
“We can’t just shove the problem under the rug,” Wiedrich said.
Her talk began with a story about a girl who Wiedrich described as small, shy, and “untalented” in the area of athletics. She was brutally teased by her peers and even physically abused at times.
The bullying continued on social media, where cruel comments were regularly posted about this girl. As a result, she became very alienated from her peers, depressed, and suicidal.
“Eventually, she stopped speaking to anyone,” Wiedrich said.
She said some kids may feel sorry for students who face such abuse, but they won’t do anything about it out of fear.
“You don’t want to become a target yourself,” she said.
After describing all these hardships, Wiedrich, who is from Hazen, told the students she was describing her own experience in junior high.
A couple of Tioga students shared their perception that bullying is not a big problem locally.
“There’s not much bullying in Tioga,” said Canvas Sanders, who is in grade eight.
Chris Henson, who is in grade seven, said Tioga students generally don’t think it is cool to cruelly pick on people.
Wiedrich’s talk, however, went beyond just a discussion about the problem of bullying. She also discussed the importance of being generally decent to one another.
To illustrate her point, she had the students split with half on one side of the gym and half on the other. She then asked a series of questions and asked any students to whom the question applied to walk to the center of the court.
She asked which students like cats. Those students gathered between the two groups of students. Next, she asked students concerned about their future to walk to the middle of the court.
Eventually, she asked students who have struggled with mental illness or loved someone who has, to walk to the middle of the court, and most students did. The exercise is meant to show how the students share many of the same difficulties, such as depression.
“You have more in common than you think,” Wiedrich explained.
She tried to encourage students to be compassionate and show empathy for each other, while having the courage to stand up to any bullying they may see and to pursue their dreams in the face of adversity.
Freshman student Zhydiah Pittman said she got a lot out of the talk.
“She’s a very inspiring person,” Pittman said.
Wiedrich said she is giving the talk all over schools across the state. She estimated about 20 appearances in all.