Assistant Principal Kathy Phillips created what she calls ‘Project TRUTH’ as a tool to teach respect and understanding toward all humankind. This program is intended to teach students about bullying and provide them with confidence and tools to try and put a stop to it.
“A lot of programs address the bully not the victim,” said Phillips.
Phillips started Project TRUTH as a voluntary after school program. During the first session, the students created masks describing who they are and then shared the masks with the group. These masks were done to build confidence and leadership in the students.
The second project Phillips initiated with the students was an anti-bullying music video. She said the students discussed how they viewed bullying and wrote the lyrics with help from the DIS Music teacher Amanda Gillum.
The lyrics were written to the tune of “Glad You Came” by the new boy band “The Wanted” and addressed bullying in P.E. classes, the hallways, the school bus and cyber-bullying over social media sites.
Paul Hellwege, a fifth grade student at DIS, said they met five times after school to work on the music video. He joined Project TRUTH because he heard his friends getting bullied by older kids and he wanted to learn more about bullying and how to put a stop to it.
Sixth grader Camden Cozzens said many high school students pick on the little kids, and they may not realize that was what they were doing. He said he hoped this video would make them aware of what they were doing. “It’s going to stop,” he said.
Jessica Ahner, also a fifth grader at DIS, said she joined because she wanted to help her friend who was being bullied and her parents thought it was nice to stand up against bullying.
DIS Science Lab teacher Stephen Hoag assisted the group with the production of the music video. Hoag is also in charge of KDUR Crew Club. KDUR is the closed-circuit TV station at DIS.
Carroll ISD School Board Secretary John Thane also assisted with the Project TRUTH video. He said he came across information regarding Project TRUTH and reached out to Phillips for more information. Phillips invited him out to watch the kids work on the video.
“I watched the kids run the whole thing, the kids did all the work,” said Thane, “I sat back and let them know I was very supportive of their efforts.”
Thane said all of the credit should be given to the students, Phillips, Hoag and Gillum.
Thane even made a cameo appearance in the video, dancing behind the students towards the end.
After the video was complete, Phillips said they had a “Red Carpet Affair” for the students in the DIS Library. The event included Paparazzi, interviewers, popcorn, pickles, Tootsie Pops and soda. The parents were also invited to attend.
“They felt their students had benefitted from it,” Phillips said of the project.
As a group, the students agreed they wanted Project TRUTH to continue next year, and the sixth graders moving on to middle school hoped to continue this idea at the middle school level. Fifth grader Nick Lee suggested they make Project TRUTH an event like Rachel’s Challenge.
Thane said he believes Project TRUTH and the message it teaches has very close ties with Rachel’s Challenge and supports the students continuing this idea next year and the years to come.
The powerful final words in the song state “Now it’s time to take a stand. Me and my friends will go hand in hand. Raise our voice to make a choice. Stop bullying! Stop bullying!”
“It won’t stop it, but it’s a starting place,” Phillips said.
Phillips is hoping to make Project TRUTH part of the curriculum and said that it would reach at least 95 percent of the students at DIS.