Bullying took center stage at Northdale Middle School in Coon Rapids Oct. 24 – quite literally.
CLIMB Theatre, a nonprofit that addresses student issues through drama, performed a new play three times for sixth, seventh and eight graders.
“One Kind Thing” takes place in 2020. Alumni of Craighton Middle School reminisce about all of the bullying that went on there, bullying that eventually led to their classmate’s suicide.
Students called Alexandria “It,” made fun of her slowly developing body, lifted her into a trash can and took pictures of her changing in gym class, among other offenses.
Most of the students didn’t actively bully Alexandria; they just stood by and watched it happen.
If the bystanders would have done just “one kind thing” for Alexandria, perhaps she wouldn’t have taken her own life.
Three CLIMB performers played multiple characters. Their live performances were supplemented with multimedia projections: YouTube videos and a recorded Skype session.
“It really helps the kids relate to our show,” actress Cayla Wolpers said of the screen scenes, common in many of CLIMB Theatre’s shows.
CLIMB performs at Northdale and other schools throughout the Anoka-Hennepin School District fairly regularly.
Assistant Principal Julie Klund-Schubert said that Northdale keeps inviting them back because “they are timely. Their topics make sense for middle school kids.”
In addition to the plays, CLIMB provides materials that teachers can use to follow up with students in the classroom.
The district as a whole has partnered with CLIMB to bring bullying prevention techniques to teachers, staff and parents.
Helping with the lighting and sound at all three performances, Northdale eight-grader Jordan DeVries was impressed. “They were very good actors,” he said.
The show’s message stuck with DeVries: “If you see bullies, make sure you stop them.”
CLIMB productions are made possible with a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Northdale funded the assembly with help from Anoka-Hennepin Community Education.
Olivia Koester is at