GLADSTONE, Mo. -- A grass roots project at a middle school north of the river to stop bullying and foster positive student behavior is opening eyes far from the metro area. And the champions of this project are the school's students, led by three national award-winning video producers who are this week's FOX 4 Young Achievers.
As the school year was winding down a few weeks ago, students in the Leadership class at Antioch Middle School in the North Kansas City School District were focused on projects to keep momentum going for the school's first-year B.E.S.T. program.
Antioch teachers and administrators launched B.E.S.T. to encourage positive, winning student behaviors. And the 15 young leaders in this class were counted on to help establish and grow the program and be its advocates.
"I think we all just wanted to positively improve our school," says Fox 4 Young Achiever Harper Ross. "It's a great school already but we wanted to make sure that all the kids feel safe and feel like they're respected."
Harper and two of her classmates, Courtney Simpson and Kaden Evans, really jumped into the effort in a big and impressive way. For National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month in October, they made a video. Even though they had no previous experience at it, Harper, Kaden and Courtney learned how to shoot video and edit on computers. And using the school's iPads, they crafted Don't Be A Bully, Be A Friend.
Harper and Courtney came up with the concept and directed and starred in it. Harper wrote the copy and Kaden was the production crew.
"We wanted everybody to know that no matter who you are or what you are, you should, you deserve the right amount of respect," says Fox 4 Young Achiever Kaden. The kids' video lit up Antioch immediately.
"That message hit the school like a firestorm, says Jeremy Bradham, Leadership class teacher and B.E.S.T. Student Advisory Committee sponsor. "Kids were making tee shirts. All the teachers posted it in their classroom." And it kept going all year long.
"It's stiill evident today," says Antioch Middle School Assistant Principal Randy Oliver, "where you'll see kids and you'll even hear them in the hallways saying, 'Hey, don't be a bully.' And somebody else, 'Be a friend.'" Don't Be A Bully, Be A Friend may seem like a simple little video but its message is clear, concise and powerful.
And that's exactly what judges said about it in a national film festival. It was named the 2013 Best Middle School Bully Prevention Video at the international conference of the Association for Positive Behavior Support which includes schools, family and community organizations and professionals all over the world.
"Feels good," says FOX 4 Young Achiever Courtney. "And how we actually did something that makes a difference about bullying." And keeps making a difference, at Antioch Middle School. "A lot more people are willing to stand up for others now," says Harper.
And now around the world.
The video is about three-and-a-half minutes long and it is certainly compelling, informative, entertaining and very creative. You can view the video on YouTube here.
Meantime, our three Fox 4 Young Achievers and the Antioch Middle School administrators and faculty want us to applaud the rest of the students in the Leadership class who carried on very effective projects this past year, as well.
Fox 4 News is Working 4 You to spotlight outstanding young people and their positive accomplishments. In our weekly report called Reaching 4 Excellence we meet young achievers in subjects like academics, the arts, leadership, community service, volunteerism, career exploration, overcoming obstacles and heroism. Watch for Reaching 4 Excellence every Monday on Fox 4 News at 8 a.m., every Wednesday on Fox 4 News at 9 p.m. and every Thursday on Fox 4 News at 5 p.m.