Luke Anderson, principal of Gussner Elementary School in Jamestown, said the students there focused on the dancing characters in the colorful inflated suits during the anti-bullying presentation at the school Monday.
"They are bringing a little activity to the presentation," he said. "That is a good fit for the kids."
Volunteers from Jamestown First Assembly were led by Sharon Swanepoel, an author and leader of the "Hashtag Big Bad Bully" program, in providing the students with information on how to recognize and react to bullies through music, dance and a story.
"We believe in our students and don't want to see them bullied," said the Rev. Andrea Mathison, children's pastor at Jamestown First Assembly. "Bullying is an epidemic and we want to change that. It is so worth it, our church is about people."
Over two days, the program will be presented at six elementary schools in Jamestown reaching about 1,308 students, Mathison said.
"And everybody gets a book," she said.
The book written by Swanepoel includes various quotes about bullying, definitions of bullying and ways for kids to be more involved in anti-bullying activities in school and at home.
"Teachers and the principal have a hard job," Swanepoel said. "We come along and bring anti-bullying to the forefront."
That is helpful, Anderson said.
"The district has done a good job with its bullying curriculum," he said. "The kids were locked in on this presentation and that is pretty amazing."
For some of the students, it was also the first assembly since the pandemic. About 243 students attended the single performance of the program in the Gussner Elementary School gymnasium on Monday afternoon..
"That is a change from the pandemic precautions," Anderson said. "This was an opportunity for all to learn."
Swanepoel said she and her husband, Rudi, appreciate the opportunity to get back in front of students with their program. They are touring North Dakota working with volunteer and church groups to organize and make the presentations.
"It is a great avenue to teach non-bullying," she said. "COVID (19) shut us down for a while, but it is still our objective to put a book in the hands of every child. As schools ramp up again, we are ready to go again."