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September 27, 2013

Touching the heart

Local students' works of art take a stand on bullying

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The works may vary in medium but their purpose is the same. Area students are using art to take a stand against bullying.

This weekend at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, visitors can take a look at work by 500 students from eight school districts – including Starpoint and Lockport City Schools – as part of the “Healing Hearts: From Hurt to Hope” exhibit. The collaborative student show, which has a closing reception at 2 p.m. Saturday, runs until Sunday.

Starpoint teachers Kelly Tomasello and Amanda Alvarez, who were instrumental in setting up Healing Hearts, shared the story of the exhibit with Board of Education members on Monday.

Starpoint students made up most of the exhibited work, Tomasello said. Many drew on personal experience, sharing their feelings on how bullying affected them or someone they knew.

“We decided to give a students a voice to create this amazing art show,” she said.

As part of the show, Thursday a special anti-bullying awareness presentation was held in the Albright-Knox auditorium. It included a presentation on acceptance by Tim and Tracy Rodemeyer, the parents of Jamey Rodemeyer, a freshman at Williamsville North High School who committed suicide two years ago this week as a result of constant bullying. Rodemeyer was known for his activism against homophobia and his videos on YouTube to help victims of bullying.

Thursday’s events included a choral performance by City Honors students, led by music teacher James Sharrat; the screening of a short film created by Williamsville North High School students, presented by teacher Brad Curcio; and a performance of classical scenes with an anti-bullying theme by Melissa Naylor’s students from Starpoint Middle School. 

Last year, Kelly and her husband Rich Tomasello both came home a little worn out after a long day. While talking about their day, the couple realized they both started similar bullying projects that day. They were teaching their students about Rodemeyer.

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