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El Paso County Colorado District 49

Stand Up. Speak Out.

Several music acts and anti-bullying presentations were featured throughout the afternoon and evening at the ìStand up. Speak Out.î concert Aug. 17 at Security Service Field in Colorado Springs, Colo. Falcon School District 49 hosted the first-time event. New York-based cover band S.R.O. kicked off the activities. Tatum Brouse and Breslin Walls then sang the national anthem ñ both are seventh-grade students at Skyview Middle School. Rachel Welte with FOX 21 News and Matthew Wessler with SOCO CW shared the master of ceremonies duties.Peter Hilts, D 49ís chief education officer, spoke during the opening ceremony. ìWe know bullying is an issue across the country,î Hilts said. ìThe only way a community can address a community problem is to come together as a community.îBree Bremser, a singer and alumni of Sand Creek High School, performed with her band, ìThe Bottom Line,î along with guitarist Nathan Noblit. New England singer/songwriter Brian Jarvis followed. Jarvis said bullying affected him at a young age because of his weight issue ñ later he battled anorexia. ìI was getting picked on all the time,î Jarvis said. ìIím just really happy and honored to be here. I think itís good to lend a hand to something that affects a lot of people.Former American Idol contestant and ìHey U.G.L.Y.î spokeswoman Devyn Rush gave an anti-bullying presentation before performing a few of her original songs.Other anti-bullying presentations included Rachelís Challenge, Safe2Tell and G.I.R.L.S. (Girls Inspiring Real Leadership Skills). Ashley Berry, an internationally recognized advocate against bullying, spoke to the crowd about how her experiences being bullied helped inspire her to create G.I.R.L.S. Berry emphasized that bullying doesnít define anyone.Denverís Taylor Watson, another singer/songwriter, performed her original songs and said the concert held a special meaning for her. ìThis is my first stadium show so thatís a pretty big deal,î Watson said. ìI also got bullied out of two schools. I had to switch schools to get away from the bullying. I decided to just figure out for myself what was true and false about me. Once I believed certain things about myself, the other people believed it, too, and I got on with my life. I think it takes a really weak person to bully someone else.îBrendan James, a singer/songwriter from New Hampshire, said he was glad to be part of the music fest because he wanted to let people know that no matter what theyíre going through, they can rise above it and find happiness.The band, ìVertical Horizon,î the concert headliner, took time out of their touring schedule to perform at the anti-bullying event. Matt Scannell, lead singer, said, ìThis is a no-brainer. If you donít support the cause, youíre an idiot and a fool. Kids should be able to live without the fear of being bullied.îDrummer Ron Lavella said he was bullied as a kid. ìThere was a kid that was held back a few years, so he was much larger than I was,î he said. ìI had to learn different ways to get to my classrooms so I didnít run into him.îìIt feels good to meet the kids and say hi and encourage people not to put up with this nonsense anymore,î Scannell said. ìI think itís admirable that Colorado has put into place anonymous reporting of bullying.îìWeíre just happy to help spread the word and thatís honestly what itís all about; raising awareness,î Lavella said.A fireworks display culminated the event, which brought out about 1,200 people. Several D 49 board members attended, including Marie LaVere-Wright, who brought her four children.ìMy family loved it,î LaVere-Wright said. ìMy kids are still talking about it. What was interesting to me was, even when I thought my children werenít listening; as they said things that night and over the next several days, I realized they were. My kindergartener got home and climbed up next to me on the couch and started describing things to me that were happening on the playground, and asking if that was bullying.ìI think the goal of the event was to start that type of conversation. All four of my kids since that event have used it to start conversations about bullying. When people have the courage to stand on stage and talk about their experiences, it helps.î

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