CRANBURY: School laser show shines light on bullying

By Amy Batista, Special Writer
CRANBURY – Students spent the afternoon recently experiencing a unique Laser Team Anti-Bullying program sponsored by the PTO last Friday.
“You are going to see some really awesome lasers that have been invented by a really special scientist that are even used by NASA,” said Vice Principal Michele Waldron.
Dominique Jones, director of programming for the PTO, which sponsored the event, said over the years she has done an informal survey of students about their favorite assembly topics.
“I want to give the kids what they like and they have said the laser assembly,” said Ms. Jones. “I have been wanting to bring that here. It really fit in well with our programming.”
Ms. Jones said the PTO tries to integrate the curriculum and the arts. All of the assemblies at the school sponsored by the PTO.
“Every time they join the PTO, donate or come to a fundraiser they use the money to do things for the school,” she said.
School guidance counselor Joann Charwin said that The New Jersey Anti-Bullying Law designates the week beginning the first Monday in October of each year as a “Week of Respect.”
“School districts, in order to recognize the importance of character education, are directed to observe the week by providing age-appropriate instruction focusing on preventing harassment, intimidation, or bullying,” she said. “Throughout the school year, districts are expected to provide similar instruction in accordance with the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards.”
Vice Principal Waldron said the assembly is really about what they do to be the best people they can be. “There are three things we do at Cranbury School to be the best people we can be – are three R’s- Respectful, Responsible, and Ready,” said Vice Principal Waldron.
The 40-minute laser show for was done in two sessions during which the students learn how to deter bullying by embracing teamwork through respect, integrity, generosity, honesty and truth set to a laser show, which was presented by Prismatic Magic’s Laser Programs.
The first laser image on the screen was teamwork.
“Any time or any way that you have two or more people working together to reach a goal to accomplish something, that’s a team right there,” said laser science teacher Ben Regan of Prismatic Magic.
He asked the students if they have what it takes to be on his laser team.
They all shouted “yes!”
Two teams of teachers demonstrated teamwork by engaging in a two rounds of prismatic laser tag. During one round one team member was blindfolded and had to listen to verbal commands from the teammate to hit the laser target on the stage.
“Communication is one of the most important things we can do to be a good teammate,” said Mr. Regan.
Next, he introduced the students to his teammate Billy on the screen.
“Billy happens to be hearing impaired,” he said, adding he can’t hear the words they say or the noise we make. “He and I have to use a special kind of communication.”
He asked the students to take a guess at what kind of communication they use.“Sign language,” a student responded who was selected from the audience. The students were taught sign language for the words right, respect, integrity, generous, honest and true. Students were taught right as part of the phrase “do the right thing.”
“To respect somebody means that you treat them the way you want to be treated,” he said.
He asked the students to raise their hands if they have ever heard that called the “golden rule.” As he demonstrated how to do integrity, he said it means to trust what is in your heart.
“It means not only knowing the difference between a right and a wrong but acting according to that knowledge,” he said. “Being true and loyal to your teammates mean we help each other out.”
We don’t let anybody be left behind, we are on a team, he added.
“If you see somebody in trouble we help them,” he said. “If you can’t we find an adult. If somebody is getting picked on we find a teacher or somebody else.”
The older students had a bit of a different twist on the assembly and as they talked about perception.
“Our perception of something is what our brain thinks is happening when we use any or all of our five senses,” he said.
He said that their teammates were using all of their five senses as the second group of teachers played their round of prismatic laser tag.
Students watched as laser images were projected on the screen in front of them and were asked questions to see how they were perceiving the images.
“We have different perceptions of the exact same image,” he said, adding that for the one image spinning on the screen there was not enough information to make a decision.
He said that can help them out in life when they have a tough decision to make they need to understand that different people see things differently.
He said he had turned the word right into an acronym – R stands for Respect, I for Integrity, G for Generous, H for Honest, and T for True.
“When you are really trying to figure out the best decision to make it really is as simple as the phrase do the right thing,” he said.
The younger students watched and sang along as laser images moved to some songs. For the older students, part of their show was watching images transform in front of them from one image into another showing them examples of perception. Both groups of students found the words that they just learned incorporated into the music like the song “Respect.”
Mr. Regan said the highlight for him is when he is sitting there and around him are sounds of a rock concert, kids just screaming and singing along.
Charlie Vachris, 10, said he liked how they put all the lasers to the songs. “I didn’t realize that those songs mean those words,” he said.
Kylee Tucholski, 13, said she thought it was really cool how Mr. Regan incorporated popular songs with nice messages about teamwork and how people should be treating others.
“I got out of it that everybody should be treated the same,” she said. “It’s just a very nice message that most people aren’t treated the way they should be and that everyone should be equal.”
She said that the perception was really cool.
“Don’t judge a book by its cover because there are a lot of things inside that we don’t know yet,” she said, adding that things look like they were going one way at times and changed.
Alex Fernandez, 13, said he liked at the end how they had the whole collage of songs.
“I thought that was really neat,” he said.
He said that he learned to be honest and generous with people. “A small act of kindness can make someone’s day,” he said.