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Hudson Valley Press

November 27th, 2013

Heritage Middle School Holds Bullying Assembly

Dr. Larry Woods, assistant principal for Heritage Middle School, arranged a captivating assembly for the school’s eight grade students to address the ever-growing issue of school bullying.
NEW WINDSOR - Bullying has become and has always been a terrible act that is committed by a bully. Most of the time, there is a bully, a victim and a bystander who actually witnesses the bullying. As bullying awareness has become a world-wide enigma, schools all over the world are organizing to combat this negative force. New York State took an aggressive role against the predatory effects of bullying by signing into law The Dignity Act on September 13, 2010. The provisions of the law provide the State’s public elementary and secondary school students with a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment, and bullying on school property, a school bus and/at a school function.

Dr. Larry Woods, an employee of the Newburgh Enlarged City School District who is employed as an assistant principal at Heritage Middle School in New Windsor accepts the additional responsibility of serving as his school’s anti-bullying coordinator. In view of the enormity of this assignment, Dr. Woods knew that he would have to enlist the services of the community at large to effectively present a formidable platform to combat the negative attributes associated with bullying. As such, he enlisted the services of his Allstate Insurance Agent, Anthony Sorrentino.

Dr. Larry Woods and Mr. Anthony Sorrentino wanted to make and leave a lasting impression on the students so they employed an unusual approach for the assembly through the use of bag pipes and a book entitled, “Please Don’t Bully Me” that was authored by Assistant Professor of Early Childhood/Childhood Education Dr. Denise Voncille Woods. The bag pipers, Ciaran Smith, Artie Hoar, Joel Conybear and Sean O’Malley brought down the house as they filled the entire gymnasium with their beautiful music. They were noted members of the Hudson Highland Pipe Band that has played in notable venues as the NYC St. Patrick Day Parade, Carnegie Hall, NJ Performing Arts Center and the Capital Parade in Albany, NY.

The band looked regal as they wore the kilt with tartan colors and design known as Royal Stewart. In addition to his playing, Mr. Sorrentino was extremely effective in his speech to the students as he educated the students on the importance of celebrating differences and diversity instead of putting it down. Through the use of humor by having them laugh about men wearing skirts, the students excitedly and respectfully responded with arousing cheers and applauses.

In addition to his speech, Mr. Sorrentino wanted to leave the students with something tangible that would aid them in their fight against bullying. Having read Dr. Denise Voncille Woods’ bully book entitled, “Please Don’t Bully Me,” he was so enthused by the contents he thought it would be a great educational tool to place in the hands of students. To make this dream a reality, he personally approached the Allstate Insurance Company and was successful in securing a check in the amount of $1,000 from the Allstate Foundation as well as his personal pledge to match or exceed the Foundation’s contribution to ensure that all 300 8th grade students received a copy of Dr. Woods’ book.

A conversation with Dr. Woods regarding her book revealed why it has received great reviews from distinguished educators and parents. When asked how and why she decide to write this book, she stated, “The beauty of life is loving and caring about humankind. It breaks my heart to listen to children, adolescents and even adults who have been bullied. In my opinion, a bully leaves on its victim an emotional scar that give the appearance that it has healed with time but unfortunately the trauma was so severe that in reality, the scar actually remains as vibrant and fresh as it was the day it was initially inflicted. Many times the victims of bullying are silent and their voices are silenced as well. I wanted to write a book that gives a voice to victims of bullying and provide possible solutions to the problems associated with bullying. As such this book which is a collection of authentic stories, poems, views, acronyms and reflections about bullying has been touted by educators as an excellent learning tool to initiate dialogue and provide some answers to issues associated with bullying.”

In fact, Dr. Woods is so compassionate about the ill effects of bullying that she decided to dedicate her book to all students who suffered the anguish, torment and pain of being bullied. She gives a special dedication with heartfelt sympathy and empathetic sentiment to the parents and families of those who have sadly lost their loved ones because of bullying.

The idea of combining bag pipes and books was an excellent idea. The students were extremely excited about the anti-bullying assembly and left with smile on their face and a book in their hands. It was a great assembly.

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