Archive for the ‘Bullying’ Category

By Jessica Conrad
Cougar News Blog

     Students were recently able to learn about bullying in a powerful way. On Friday, Nov. 21, the Power Team visited the Performing Arts Center at the Apache Junction High School for an anti-bullying assembly filled with stunts and memorable speeches.
     Both seventh and eighth grade students at Cactus Canyon were able to attend a preview during the school day for the three night show at the PAC.
     “The Power Team taught the students how to use their strength to achieve goals and to never give up their vision,” said Principal, Courtney Castelhano.
     Last year, Student Council and Ms. Davis’ Lifeskills Class had their own anti-bullying assembly called “Spread the Word to End the Word.” That assembly included skits, speeches and a powerpoint presentation made by Student Council and a special guest speaker.
     “The year’s assembly was different in the fact that we have never had this group present before,” said Castelhano. “Also, they had more of an animated presentation.”
     Cactus Canyon has had anti-bullying assemblies in the years past, but none of them compared to this year’s.
     “The speaker of The Power Team told a lot of personal stories, “ said eighth grader Wendie Orozco. “I liked how they used stunts to explain their stories.”
     Castelhano is hoping to have more anti-bullying assemblies in the years to come. She says it’s a good thing to have because it brings awareness in the junior high level.
     “We want students to gain knowledge of the effects of bullying and also good character,” said Castelhano.
     The Power Team show promises “amazing feats of strength and power with a message of hope and inspiration.”


The staff of the Cougar News Blog is participating in this year’s Blog Action Day. Each year bloggers from around the world post about issues like the environment, poverty, and climate change. This year’s issue is human rights. In the Journalism classroom there is a poster that describes how to be a global citizen and includes things like respecting diversity, fighting against social injustice, and volunteering in the community. The class used these as a guide to show how to improve human rights around the world. Students were given almost no direction for this assignment, so what you read is entirely the ideas from the minds of 13- or 14-year-old eighth graders. For more information, visit

Respect Diversity and Values

By Mario Duran
Cougar News Blog

Have you ever tried to cook something on your stove without plugging it in? Have you ever tried to teach a little kid how to be a marathon runner before the little guy can even walk? Have you ever tried to eat the ice cream cone before the actual ice cream? Well you probably shouldn’t, because it’s very difficult and probably won’t work at all and the ice cream will fall on your pants.
If you try to get rid of bullying or rape culture or racism there’s a very high chance you’re trying it on a grown person who is already a bully or a rapist or a bigot. If you want your baby to grow up to be a great speaker, you should probably teach him how to talk first. So, it should make sense to teach rapists to not want to rape in the first place. Kind of like sending your grandma a Thank You card before she even sends you money (unless it’s about last year’s money, in which case you are kind of mean and need to appreciate your grandma a little more).
If someone grows up not knowing that it’s not okay to be mean, to respect the word no, to hate people for no reason, then they will never know that it’s not okay. If we teach people to be good in the first place, we won’t have to worry about them being bad when they’re old and (probably) stubborn.
Billy just met a gay couple. He asks his mom “hey how come they are both guys?” Then, the mom says “because they are evil and worship Satan. Don’t ever talk to them.” How do you think little Billy will grow up? He will grow up being homophobic.
Bobby just met a gay couple. He asks his mom “hey how come they are both girls?” Then, the mom says “because they both love each other very much.” How do you think little Bobby will grow up? He will grow up accepting gay culture.
Sometimes hate leads from rejection in a certain religion. Billy’s mom might be very religious and doesn’t like gay people because in her set of rules it says that being gay is bad. It’s not okay to be mean to someone because of this either. While their beliefs might be silly to some people, they are very serious to them. And while Billy’s mom follows those beliefs rigorously, Bobby’s mom, who shares these same beliefs, isn’t as serious about them. You can’t dismiss everyone because of a shared trait.
Sunzida lives with her mom, dad, and brother. They are a caring family and love each other very much. Sometimes Sunzida gets dirty looks when she walks on the street. Sunzida is a muslim girl, and she wears a hijab. Ever since September 11th, Muslim people have been deemed evil terrorists. Sunzida has never done anything bad, but nonetheless, people don’t like her. She is discriminated against like the gay couples Billy and Bobby met.

By Cassidy Hoxeng
Cougar News Blog

Everyone is different in their own ways, whether you’re blonde or brunette, or a boy or girl. Judging people has been a big problem lately. People judge just on the color of your skin or the color of your hair or even the clothes you wear. Just because someone is different than you, doesn’t mean you should mistreat them. People should respect each others differences. If everyone was the same it would be boring. Would you want someone to be exactly like you?
Everyone deserves to be treated with respect. People have value. Individuals have many different lives, they may be having issues with their family, school or relationships, but you don’t know any of that and by making them upset, you’re making them feel worse. They think they are losing their value to life or even the situation they’re in.
What people are really doing is bullying. Even if you don’t know that person and you just see them on the streets and call them “fat,” that is bullying. Think about how they feel. How would you feel if someone called you a name or made fun of you? Many people end their life because of bullying.
People need to respect people because just because you’re different doesn’t mean you’re useless, it means you’re unique.

Be Aware of the Wider World and Your Role in It

By Kayla Mix
Cougar News Blog

Though the Earth is not the largest of all the planets, it is still very big. It is home to over 7 billion people and is constantly growing.
Though the world is so big, many people often forget to think about other people and their feelings. People think that the world revolves around them. That causes them to think of no one but themselves and they soon become trapped in their own little worlds where everything goes their way. However, as those people are in their own little happy place, the rest of the world is thinking about what is real. They know that they can’t have everything they want because that’s not how things work and those people are correct. The real truth is that the world doesn’t really work that way. You can never get what you want unless you work toward it.
Many individuals are judged by their appearance, whether it’s their ethnicity, beliefs, culture, or religions. Just because people believe different things than you do it does not mean that they have to be mistreated, but many times they are and that is not fair because we are all equal and we should all be treated as such. As soon as people realize that then the world will become a much better place for everyone in it and people will be happy.
America has more independence than other countries and sometimes we take that for granted. We should appreciate all the freedom that we have because many people out there don’t have the same luxuries that we do. Some people have been working their whole lives and don’t even come close to having half of the things that they deserve.

Learn How the World Works Economically, Culturally, Socially, Politically, Socially, and Environmentally

By Anna Gray
Cougar News Blog

How long have you lived in this world? Do you know exactly how it works, because there are many different parts that make up how the world runs today. For example there is how the world runs economically, socially, and politically. Most people have believe that all humans should have equal rights and the same opportunities, but that is not how our world is today.
Economically, most people believe that money equals power. If it does, shouldn’t all people be offered the same opportunities to have good paying jobs? That does not always happen though. Some people are not offered the same jobs as others because employers can be prejudiced or racist against people beliefs or characteristics.
Socially there are a few things that could be improved to give humans the same rights. For example, men are still making more money than a woman for the same amount of work. In 2009, full-time working women were earning 19 percent less money than a full-time working man. People are also still being discriminated against because of their race or sexual orientation and are not being offered the same opportunities.
Politically there is issues with governments. Some governments around the world give citizens very little human rights. There are dictators that force people to believe in certain religions, give them no rights to speak or vote. The world needs to help each other and unite to give humans equal rights.

Fight Against Social Injustice

By Holly Stillman and Alysa Rippee
Cougar News Blog

Social Injustice is defined as a type of discrimination such as race, genocide, bullying and many more. There are many different forms of social injustice, one popular form of social injustice between young adults includes cyber bullying. Statistics show that 52 percent of teens have reported being cyber bullied and 33 percent have experienced being threatened online.
Injustice in social life has been around all through history to today. Some important people who fought against social injustice include Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. and many more. In the current world social injustice includes race, sexual orientation, people with disabilities and economic values. Social injustice is about inequalities and unfairness among people that is taken advantage of by discriminators.
People need to act against social injustice when witnessing it. That applies to children and adults. Harassment and bullying are forms of social injustice that occur very often in public and online, whether it would be pushing someone against the lockers or jeering at a co-worker. Before you open your mouth, consider the content that’s about to come out.

Participate in and Contribute to Your Community

By Maranda Brousseau
Cougar News Blog

The United States has freedom overall. We are Global Citizens which means that we have certain responsibilities. For example, participating in and contribute to oour community. Participating in our community doesn’t always mean volunteering in a soup kitchen or at a animal shelter, but we can also support our government by voting or mailing a letter of suggestions. We could even go to a city council meeting or to a school meeting to share our ideas and show support. People also can participate in or volunteer for community events.
Another thing that many people do for community service is picking up trash on the side of the road or the highways. Some people buy food for the less fortunate instead of giving them money because they will know that their money will go to the right purpose. Community service is also a punishment for many people. But, either way they are helping out in the community and doing their part in the community. We have to contribute to our community somehow, right? People can think of some really creative ways to help out and participate in the community! As Global Citizens, we should be thankful for our rights and show our thankfulness by giving a helpful hand to the community by participating in the community.

Take Responsibility for Your Actions/Act in a Way That Makes the World a Better Place

By Kathy G.
Cougar News Blog

You might hear a quote saying, “Oh you can’t change the world.” But you shouldn’t listen. Always keep trying to make a positive difference. There’s 7 billion people in this world. If everyone in this world started doing even little things like smiling at each other, it would affect the world greatly.
People will criticize for a while but it will calm down soon. Plus people might start trying new things to make a difference and it will spread on and on. Each time they do something positive they will want to do more.
A lot of people think you need to be a billionaire or a world leader to make a difference, but really all you need is the positive you. Because being a good person is all about the small things. It’s about how you treat other people not how many people you have power over.
If you would like to start trying to make a difference but dont know how, here are a couple of ideas you might want to try.
Volunteering is a great way to start. It could be volunteering at thrift stores, shelters, or schools. Believe it or not, that’s usually how it starts. Someone will just go and help out; you don’t have to do anything big for people to start seeing the differences you are making.
Also, donating can help out like donating clothing or if you’re up for it just donating a little blood. There are a lot of people in this world that need clothing to keep covered and warm, and people with diseases, and in emergency services that need blood.
People don’t realize how amazingly easy it is. It’s just spreading some kindness. How easy is that? There are so many things you can do that are nice. For example, you can help an elderly across the street, or just being nice to them, and if you see bullying stick up for the person, it may take some courage but it will be worth it.
Once you are an adult this will be the big one, you can go to city council meetings, write letters to the congress and senators, check with government websites, and most newspapers have sections where you can voice your opinion.

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By Kayla Mix
Cougar News Blog

Bullying. It’s a big problem that happens worldwide. With this big problem at hand what are schools supposed to do? Not sit here and wait for things to change all by themselves. No, students and teachers alike must come together to put a stop to this problem, and that is exactly what Cactus Canyon Junior High is doing.
Cactus Canyon’s office staff and administrators have come up with a spirit week to raise awareness about the problem of bullying. The week will be Sept. 30-Oct. 4.
“Everyone deserves a safe, friendly environment to learn and work in,” said behavior coach Carol Dolle. “If we can stop bullying on our campus we will be providing that environment for our students.”
This week should be taken seriously because this is a very serious problem that all schools are dealing with. Many people who work in the office came together with the ideas for Spirit Week. Monday was Courteous Cougar Day, Tuesday is Super Hero Day, Wednesday is Put a lid on Bullying, which means students can wear hats all day long. Thursday is Black out Bullying Day, and Friday is Team Day so students wear jerseys from different sports teams.
An important lesson of spirit week is to treat everyone equally and that everyone is different and special in his or her own special way.
“Spirit week makes me feel more involved in school activities,” said Vanessa Silbar. “And like I fit in.”

By Kaylee Layman
Cougar News Blog

Cactus Canyon Junior High school’s staff was talking a lot about bullying during the week of April 29. Each day there was a new message was highlighted in the announcements and Communities 4 Change members put together a week for students to show how they feel.
This week was packed and ended with a guest speaker and a dance.
The idea behind the spirit week was repetition because administrators felt students needed to hear the anti-bullying message over and over so they can begin to apply it to their lives.
“Over time this will start to get to student,” said assistant principal Joyce Gingrich.
This made a positive impact on the school as a whole by allowing student to express how bullying has affected them or people they know.
“When I was at the high school the other day I saw one of last year’s students sticking up for a kid that was being bullied,” Gingrich said. “I was so proud to see that we are really getting through to the students.”

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By Holly Stillman
Cougar News Blog

Last Friday, guest speaker Mark Trombino from Motivational Small Talk Incorporation visited Cactus Canyon to share his inspiring story and guide the students through bullying and how to overcome it.
His presentation included funny impressions, a few clips from inspiring movies, and stories about his past.
Staff, students, and Mr. Trombino himself were very excited for Friday’s visit and were hopeful that the assembly would be a success.
“I was very excited to visit Cactus Canyon,” said Trombino. “I have heard great things about the school and know that this message will help improve an already excellent school.”
Students from Cactus Canyon had to walk to the high school’s PAC center after attendance was done in their ZAP classes to attend the presentation that lasted about an hour.
Principal Courtney Castelhano was enthusiastic about Trombino’s visit and hopes it will make students think twice before acting in a way that might hurt someone else. Her goal is to make Cactus Canyon a safer, happier school.
“We truly want to create a culture of caring and kindness here at CCJH,” said Castelhano.
Students appreciated how Trombino intertwined his life into the presentation to make them realize that he’s an average person just like them and how easy it was for him to get bullied.
“My favorite part of the assembly was when he integrated his life story into the presentation,” said seventh grader Ashli Albertsen. “I love hearing experiences from other people because it makes me feel how real it is.”
Trombino, a little person, is 3 feet 3 inches tall and knows just how hard it is for kids and knows how it feels to be different from others, which is why he created his organization to help kids through bullying.
“I started Motivational Small Talk with my partner Gail (six) years ago. Since then, we have spoken at hundreds of schools and impacted thousands of lives,” he said. “So I am very confident this message will hit home with the students, staff, and community. It will help empower those who are bullied to stand up for themselves.”
As planned, many students walked away from the assembly with a new outlook on bullying and how they can make Cactus Canyon a better school.
“Mr. Trombino’s visit impacted my views on bullying because he gave examples on the different ways bullying can happen,” said seventh grader Trinity Izbicki. “He gave examples of his own personal experiences with bullying and that bullying can come in many different forms, whether it has to deal with shortness or the way you look. Either way, bullying is not OK and Mr. Trombino presented that it isn’t and that we should take a part in it and become better people.”
Overall, students said the assembly was a fun and entertaining presentation they were glad they had the opportunity to attend the assembly.
“I enjoyed the presentation greatly because the speaker touched my heart and made me realize that bullying is a huge problem and that everyone should take a part and try to put a stop to it,” said Izbicki.

By Holly Stillman
Cougar News Blog

The Communities for Change organization paid a visit to Superstition Mountain Elementary School March 8 to raise awareness on bullying in other schools.
The group, which has members from Cactus Canyon Junior High and Apache Junction High School, held two assemblies, one for kindergartners through second grade and one for third grade through sixth grade. Three members of C4C gave speeches to the younger kids and shared their bullying experiences. For some, the experience was very moving.
“The visit was very emotional for most of us,” said eighth grader Abby Davis. “It was difficult to talk about being bullied in front of such a large audience, in the end though, it was well worth it.”
Many of the junior high students found it easy to connect with the elementary kids, either by mutual friends, having the same interests, or have been bullied themselves. Most students at SMES were able to relate to the acts of bullying.
“The students were a lot like us in ways. They were already experiencing some things that I wasn’t exposed to until my fifth grade year in elementary school,” Davis said. “It’s nice for them to be able to relate to someone who is older than them and feel comfortable enough to share what was going on in their lives. These students agree that bullying is wrong and something needs to be done about it.”
Most C4C members thought of the visit as a fun way to connect with younger students and teach them how to better themselves, while others saw it as an opportunity to inspire others with their own accounts of bullying.
“I chose to go because I know what it feels like to be bullied. I made incorrect decisions on how to deal with that bully and that is something I really regret,” said Davis. “I want the students to learn that what is happening to some of them is not right and shouldn’t happen. Our group also wants to stress the correct way to deal with one, like I said, I regret what I did to stop the person that was bullying me and I don’t want anyone else to deal with that.”
Cougars for Change thought of ways for them to leave their “paw prints” on the school to remind them that bullying is not okay and that we all must work together to prevent bullying from happening.
“We had each group play a game that taught them more about a specific value,” said C4C adviser Jessica Kucenski. “We then read a story about bullying to the K to second-grade group. C4C members shared their personal experiences about bullying to the third to sixth grade (group).”
The event was such a success, C4C plans to do this again with other elementaries in the district soon.
“We would like to visit the other three elementary schools in the future,” said Kuenski, “We are also considering putting on an assembly next year for both Cactus Canyon and AJ High. We personalize each one, so each one is slightly different and unique.”
C4C saw this visit as a chance to reach out to others in our community and work together to prevent bullying at our schools.
“Our school district needs to work together, and our schools need to support one another,” Kucenski said. “I think that these visits are a great way to do that. C4C wanted to make sure that SMES students know that we support their values. We support their efforts to stand up against bullying, and if we work together, we can do far more than anything alone.”

By Malorie Eagar
Cougar News Blog

Many eighth graders at Cactus Canyon will remember the Kick Off With Kelsey that happened Feb. 29, 2012. On Feb. 28, Communities4Change celebrated its one-year anniversary by gathering to watch the movie “Bully,” the documentary on bullying that was filmed in 2011.
The group wanted to show that particular movie to show the effects of bullying – how it affects students in and out of school and how individuals can stop it.
“I really hope that the people who participated realize what bullying can lead to,” said eighth grader Sarah Ferraro.
The group had been planning to play this movie for quite some time, and couldn’t wait to show the film to the people who come, which was an estimated 40-50 people.
Ms. Kucenski began the afternoon by showing the To This Day Project video on YouTube posted by poet and animator Shane Koyczan. The project is a video about bullying that sums up what happened to Koyczan and two others as kids, where they are now, and what students can do about bullying.
“I have seen the To This Day Project before,” said Ferraro. “I enjoyed it very much. It was very inspiring.”
After the movie, ninth grader Kelsey Martinez, president of Communities4Change, made a speech that talked about her past experiences with bullying and how it has affected her and her loved ones.
Ms. Kucenski said she hoped the event helped raise awareness that bullying, which continues to be a major issue in schools despite receiving a great deal media exposure in recent years.
“I hope that students walked away with a better understanding of how prevalent bullying is in our schools and how they can make a difference to stop it,” said Kucenski.

By Christal Canejo
Staff writer

This month Cougars for Change is focusing on spreading their purpose farther than CCJH and even Arizona.
Last month C4C was getting the word across the school and to bring awareness of bullying by setting up spirit days and the Kickoff with Kelsey.
Now, members are writing letters to senators, participating in a national video contest, and creating Twitter and Facebook pages online.
“The students at CCJH are doing their part to create a better climate at school, so we would like support from other people who have the power to spread this movement on to other schools throughout the country,” said Jessica Kucenski, the director of Cougars for Change.
Members are trying to get about 150-200 students to write letters to U.S. senators Jon Kyle and John McCain and U.S. Representative Jeff Flake to help raise awareness of what the group is doing.
“Our U.S. representatives fight for our needs if they know our needs,” said Ms. Kucenski. “I want to encourage young people to contact their representatives so they understand what teenagers need, everyone deserves to go to school in a safe environment, and students can speak up and let their representatives know this.”
Cougars for Change also participated in a national video contest called “For Good” that is sponsored by BullyBust and the producers of the musical “Wicked.” The video includes footage taken from the Kickoff with Kelsey and the Shuffling for Change event that took place during the Cougars for Change spirit week. The winners of this contest will be able to meet the cast of “Wicked” and will also receive $500 to support their program. The video has also been posted on the Cougars for Change website.
Ms. Kucenski and her students have also created Facebook and Twitter pages to spread the word and to get more people aware of what they are doing.
“We are trying to get different culture and policy makers to spread anti-bullying awareness,” said Ms. Kucenski. “The students at CCJH are doing their part to create a better climate at school, so we would like support from other people who have the power to spread this movement on to other schools throughout the country.”
Ms. Kucenski also explained that members of Cougars for Change are also coming up with their own ideas to spread the world locally and some even nationally.
“I have one student who even wrote an email to the Ellen Show because he wants to spread our movement to other schools across the country,” she said.
Cougars for Change has also recently started an anti-cyberbullying campaign called, “Delete Hate, Share Love.” More details are posted on their Web site at

By Paige Mace
Staff writer

Cougars for Change is an anti-bullying program that Jessica Kucenski’s students created to bring awareness to bullying issues. It is meant to bring students together to change their school environment so that every student feels safe to be at Cactus Canyon.
The group will sponsor a spirit week March 5-9 and prepared students for it with Kickoff with Kelsey on Feb. 29 when eighth grader Kelsey Martinez spoke throughout the day about the effects of bullying.
“I helped out by doing the Kickoff with Kelsey,” said Martinez. “I talked to all the seventh and eighth graders Wednesday. I talked about bullying for about 10 minutes and then they went back to class.”
Everyone involved in Cougars for Change communicates through e-mail and meets as a committee at least once a week during ELO. Kucenski encourages committees to communicate with each other frequently so they can accomplish their goals.
“I want students to feel safe at school, to be accepted for who they are, and realize how much potential they have to change their environment when they work together and support each other,” said Kucenski, an eighth grade science teacher.
Kucenski came up with the idea after Martinez wrote a series of anti-bullying stories for the Cougar News Blog. When Martinez interviewed Kucenski for a story, she asked how Kucenski felt she couild stop bullying, which inspired Kuenski to create Cougars for Change.
“No one deserves to be called names, to be made fun of, or to be physically assaulted for being different,” Kucenski said. “We are all different and unique, and that is what makes everyone special.”
Anyone can get involved by letting Ms. Kucenski know they would like to help out with Cougars for Change.
One of her students created a Google Apps document that is shared with all members. This document is a way for all of the people involved to communicate ideas and organize activities. Other students who may not want to join the official committee can still get involved by spreading kindness around campus and supporting any efforts to combat bullying.
Kucenski has challenged all her students to do something nice for another student they may not know well. Sometimes a smile can change a person’s entire day, she said.

By Kelsey Martinez
Staff writer

It was in the sixth grade that she had been bullied relentlessly by a single student at her school. The student would bully her daily, going out of their way to bring the girl down and harassing her whenever they got a chance to. The student would verbally abuse her, bully her online, and make physical threats to her.
“When she would bully me,” said the girl. “It made me feel like I was worth nothing.”
Many times the girl would come home crying because of what happened during school, then fall asleep on her bed because of how tired she was of being bullied. Sometimes when it was really bad, she would even call her mother and beg to get out of school early. Other days she would lie to her mother so she wouldn’t have to face what awaited her at school.
“(The bully) truly would do anything to make me feel horrible about myself,” said the girl.
The girl told her mother how she was being bullied. Her mother, from then on, did everything she could to help her daughter. Even coming to the assistant principal for help. Sadly, all the assistant had to say was for the mother to deal with it.
“My mother was worried when I told her,” said the girl. “She knew how many people had committed suicide because of bullying.”
Eventually the bully moved away during the school year, leaving the girl to enjoy what was left of sixth grade. It’s been over a year since then and now whenever the girl sees someone being bullied, she goes and helps them out, and offers some advice.
“Now as I look back on it, it doesn’t bother me anymore,” the girl said. “I feel like that student was never worth my time.”