Like many middle school students, the seventh-graders in Dana Richards' language arts classes have either witnessed or been victims of bullying.
The Anza Trail School students are aware of the various forms of harassment, from verbal and physical to cyberbullying, but a class project allowed them to delve deeper into the topic and educate their classmates.
The students created videos, websites, PowerPoint slide shows and brochures to reveal tips on how to deal with bullies, present statistics on those affected by bullying and conduct interviews with people who have faced harassment.
There was even an anti-bullying rap recited by a few students at the end of the presentations.
The interviews included a girl who was temporarily taken out of school because of bullying and a teacher in his 60s who still felt the impact of mistreatment he encountered in high school.
In other videos, the middle schoolers acted out scenarios, depicting how students should react when they encounter a bully.
"It's important to us," said seventh-grader Skylar Simmons, 13. "We really want to get the message out there and end it."
Richards is fully aware of the bullying that can occur in middle school, which is why she assigned the project to her students, she said.
The students prepared for the project by reading "Bystander," a novel about bullying, as well as other fictional stories before writing their own stories.
They also published an article to the Sahuarita school's website, read blogs on bullying and researched other anti-bullying projects. The research and digital media components adhered to the state's new Common Core standards, which were created to better prepare students for college and careers.
"It's great to see the kids take responsibility and have them be the teachers," Richards said.
While working on the project, the students learned their own personal lessons and gained new perspectives on bullying.
The students quoted statistics on the number of suicides connected to bullying, as well as how many people drop out of school because they're harassed.
"I learned that bullying is a lot bigger than I thought it was. People's voices need to be heard," said Summer Lamb, 12.
Simmons shared the same sentiment.
"When you're bullied, it feels like the end of the world," she said. "It made me realize I'm not alone with it."
"I learned that bullying is a lot bigger than I thought it was. People's voices need to be heard."
Summer Lamb, Anza Trail School student
Contact reporter Jamar Younger at email@example.com or 573-4242. On Twitter: @JamarYounger