Ferris students use theater to raise awareness about bullying | Community Spirit
Students at Ferris High School are using theater to raise awareness about the negative impact of bullying. Project Hope: Stop the Bullying is a presentation of three one act plays all with the theme of bullying, the proceeds of their performances will benefit local charity S.M.I.L.E.
Theater teacher, Mary Cooper, started Project Hope seven years ago after taking a course in service and learning at Gonzaga University. Cooper realized that she could use drama as a means to raise awareness and funds for local issues and charities. In the past, Project Hope has benefited the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, Catholic Charities and last year the proceeds went to Youth Suicide Prevention Program.
Each year, theater students pick not only the charity, but also the topic of the production. Students start their research in the fall and work all year to bring the project to life on stage.
“I tell them to look where there is a need in our community, to look where there is hole that we can try to fill,” says Cooper, “sometimes they can relate to the topic, it can be healing for them.”
Students say the topic of bullying is something that they can all relate to. Many of the students involved say that they have been bullied and some even admit that they have bullied others. They all agree that working on Project Hope has been eye opening.
The group says that bullying goes beyond the classrooms and hallways of school. Many of them didn't realize that their words and actions both online and at home can hurt others too. The biggest thing they learned? That bullying is a cycle and can easily go un-noticed. They hope that their peers will see how simple words can make a huge impact.
The one acts are student written and directed and are just a culmination of the theater student's work this year. Last semester, the drama class visited elementary schools to perform skits and presentations to explain to a younger generation about the impact of bullying.
This year they opted to raise funds for S.M.I.L.E. which was started by Christie Toribara after her son Craig, a then Ferris student, committed suicide. The organization provides resources and events to educate on suicide prevention and bullying as well as tools to help youth find solutions to emotional pain and grief.
Tickets to Project Hope: Stop the Bullying are $5 and all the proceeds will go to S.M.I.L.E. The booster club will also be donating all the proceeds from concession sales as well. There will also be a gift basket raffle each night of the show. Cooper hopes to raise $2,000 this year.
Project Hope: Stop the Bullying will be performed May 1-3 at 7 p.m. in the Commons of Ferris High School.