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Challenging the bullies

Bay Path students raise issues with Heritage kids

Bay Path Student Council members read to pupils at the Heritage School during their visit last week. (click for larger version)
November 16, 2010
CHARLTON — Bay Path Regional Vocational Technical High School student Thais Rentas, of Southbridge, knows what it's like to be bullied, so she wanted to help inoculate younger students against it.

"I was afraid to confront a girl and she wouldn't let me play," Rentas recalled from when she was 9. "So I ended up sitting down at recess."

Rentas and the rest of Bay Path's Student Council descended en masse on Charlton's Heritage School last week to spend some time reading stories about bullying and answering their younger peers' questions. It was one of the Student Council's community service projects, sparked in part by the coverage of the bullying-related death of their age-mate Phoebe Prince earlier this year.

While most of the teens finished their reading sessions fairly quickly, Kateri Hastings, of Rutland, said she was delayed by lots of questions and lots of personal stories. Among other things, she said she challenged her fourth grade group to stand up to any bullies they see at recess.

"They knew a great deal about giving respect," she said afterward. "They have a good understanding of the need to treat others as you'd want to be treated."

Hastings noted one girl told her how she'd told her father, who talked to the bully's parents and stopped the problem. Others, however, asked questions about what might happen if the bullying didn't stop, but Hastings said she didn't think they were really old enough to understand how some serious cases can lead to suicide (as Prince's did).

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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