Talent show spreads anti-bullying message - Catholic Courier
Siena Catholic Academy eighth-grader Kaycee Viator, seen above taking part in a living rosary Jan. 27, was the winner of the first-ever Siena's Got Talent anti-bullying-themed talent show. Siena Catholic Academy eighth-grader Kaycee Viator, seen above taking part in a living rosary Jan. 27, was the winner of the first-ever Siena's Got Talent anti-bullying-themed talent show.

Talent show spreads anti-bullying message

BRIGHTON — Eighth-grader Kaycee Viator stood in front of a microphone in the middle of the stage at Siena Catholic Academy, while her classmates chanted her name.

Lines recited from memory gushed out of her like a river of emotion that overflowed its banks.

"They hate us because of how we look," Kaycee, 13, of Irondequoit, said in a spoken word piece on bullying. She ended the piece with: "I have to step up so others don’t get stepped on."

As she finished, her classmates erupted in thunderous applause, and several judges held up numbers that would mark her the winner of the first-ever Siena’s Got Talent anti-bullying-themed talent show Jan. 28.

Afterwards, Kaycee said her piece was not autobiographical but was penned from the perspective of someone being bullied.

"I just felt like I had to be myself and be open-minded," Kaycee said.

Talent show performers were charged with putting an anti-bullying message into their performances for the show, which was part of the school’s celebration of Catholic Schools Week, which took place Jan. 26-Feb. 1.

During Catholic Schools Week, Siena students also made rosaries to give to sixth-grade students in diocesan elementary schools, had a prayer service and dress-down day and wrapped up celebrations with a student/faculty basketball game. The talent show coincided with the launch of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, and the school also hosted an anti-bullying presentation by Rochester Knighthawk Joe Walters.

Siena Principal Vincent Tata said the seventh- and eighth-grade school has had some limited instances of bullying.

"Middle-school kids will be middle-school kids," Tata said. "We deal with it, but we don’t have major instances of bullying overall."

He said the Olweus program fit well with what the school was already doing to counteract bullying. He said the school plans to educate parents about the program through a series of parent meetings. The school has started offering class meetings to help students communicate better, and it has trained faculty and staff on bullying interventions.

"There is not as much bullying as other schools, but we’d be naïve to think it doesn’t exist," said Abigale Terrana, school counselor.

She said the Olweus program dovetailed with efforts the school already had in place to fight bullying and promote community.

"The students are on board with it, which is really refreshing," Terrana said of the program.

During the talent show, students enthusiastically cheered on their classmates as they performed. They were led by emcee Jack Steger, 13, of Webster, who was clad in a suit, tie and a showman’s grin. Steger was chosen for the host gig after he created an anti-bullying movie-preview for the talent show. "This year, evil has met its match," Steger’s video proclaims. Administrators say they hope to post Steger’s video on the school’s website.

In addition to showing the video, student performers showed off other artistic talents. Three dancers mimed a bullying conflict, as one walked around with a "Kick me" sign on her back and the other two pantomimed violence against the bullied girl. Eventually, though, they ripped the sign off her back and then began to dance in unison, showing the end of bullying and their reconciliation. After the dance performance, Steger pronounced it, "Beautiful. Beau-tee-ful," enunciating every syllable.

The dancers, 13-year-old Danielle Salina of Webster, 13-year-old Paige Burruto of Fairport, and 13-year-old Lily Zucaro of Webster, said they acted out a message of bullying followed by forgiveness.

"Even though they were bullying me, I found a way to forgive them," Danielle said.

Second place in the competition went to Nicole Pernaselli, who sang Demi Lovato’s "Warrior" song, which is about triumphing over bullying. Nicole said the song was meaningful to her, since she had experienced bullying in the past.

"There was a group of people that were continuously saying hurtful things," Nicole said. "I talked to my parents about it and they told me that I shouldn’t let it get to me, and I should rise above it."


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