On Monday afternoon, Beatrice and Southern High School students gathered in the O-Zone to watch professional BMX riders from the X Games perform stunts and listen to bullying statistics.
While the riders did 360 degree jumps and back flips across the gymnasium, an emcee stated facts organized by the Anti-Defamation League, such as 22 percent of students 12 to 18 years old reported being bullied at school.
Bullying can be a combination of physical, verbal, psychological or cyber. Preventative measures were also discussed, like staying calm, walking away from the situation and telling an adult.
After the finale of a rider flipping over BHS assistant principal Philip Voigt’s head, if students could recall the information at the end of the performance they received free lanyards and other prizes.
“It was fun, because ultimately this is about getting kids to start thinking about how we treat each other,” Voigt said. “If I have to put myself on stage and have a BMX bike come a couple inches from my face to get that conversation started, then that’s what we’ll do.”
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The ASA High School Tour visits schools like BHS every year, using the allure of action sports to spread an educational message.
“Someone standing on a stage and just talking to them about facts wouldn’t necessarily get to them, but if we’re addressing their interests and we’re doing it in an exciting way, it’s a great way for us to start that conversation and maybe reach some of those students that a typical assembly wouldn’t have,” Voigt said.
Dane Beardsly, the show’s BMX flatlander, said he’s only seen positive feedback from students.
“The high school crowd is a tough crowd to impress, but with this crew of guys it’s always easy for us because everybody’s a top-notch, great rider,” Beardsly said.
Beardsly said he received a teaching degree, so combining education with his interest in BMX really excited him.
Voigt said he was excited to get Southern involved, as well, so the anti-bullying message can spread into the Wymore and Beatrice communities.
“I think bullying is present all over the country in every school. We’d be naive to think that it’s not here,” Voigt said. “With our ‘one school, one family’ motto, we want to continue to push that how we treat each other and how we embrace each other’s differences.”