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Speaker teaches Oak Harbor students: Don’t bully, be accepting

National speaker Stu Cabe speaks to Oak Harbor High School students after his anti-bullying presentation.  - Rebecca Olson/Whidbey News-Times
National speaker Stu Cabe speaks to Oak Harbor High School students after his anti-bullying presentation.
— image credit: Rebecca Olson/Whidbey News-Times

Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream will never end as long as speakers like Stu Cabe pass the message along to students willing to put in the effort to change their schools.

Cabe presents his anti-bullying message around the nation and spoke to high school and middle school students this week. He also came to Oak Harbor last year.

“This is really a remarkably respectful school,” Cabe said, adding that after seeing more than 150,000 students per year, he can tell this by how the students and staff interact.

Cabe kept students laughing with witty stories and questions before bringing it all together to drive his point home.

“If you want to be known as the generation that’s going to rule the world in a few years, you have to choose the good habits,” Cabe said. King’s work boiled down to trying to get people to break the bad habit of racism.

That also goes for bullying in schools.

Even using words like “retard” and “gay” in derogatory ways causes harm because it builds a habit of linking the terms with ugliness and inadequacy, Cabe said.

One of King’s ideals that Cabe wanted students to remember is, “Judge them by the character of their spirit and what makes them a human being.” Race, religion, gender and sexual orientation are at the bottom of the list of who a person is.

To cope with bullying, Cabe taught phrases including, “What you think about me says a lot about you,” “Kindness is our weapon of choice,” and “As one person, I alone cannot change the world, but I can change the world of one person.”

“Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t do it alone, Steve Jobs didn’t do it alone, but Hitler didn’t do it alone, either,” Cabe said.

The message spoke deeply to student Yana Abramowitz, who has been bullied for being Jewish.

“I thought they were trying to be better than everyone else but at the end, they were lower,” Abramowitz said.

As secretary for the Gay-Straight Alliance at the high school, Abramowitz and GSA president Ciara Ivey have faced intolerance for supporting the group.

“Everybody used to think I was gay because I supported them,” Ivey said.

“It’s not really skin color, it’s who you are as a person that you’re bullied for,” Abramowitz said.

Both have seen a lot of bullying at the school and know it’s everywhere but they said they hope to see acceptance of others grow among people.

“We want to get into a reality where what you are is OK,” Abramowitz said.

“We’re trying to spread the word that bullying is not OK and never was,” Ivey said.

Ninth-grade student Kayla Nagel was bullied in a private school but said she hasn’t had any problems since she joined the public school system. She was touched by Cabe’s presentation last year about anti-bullying.

“He’s such a big impact in all of us and everyone wants to listen and he’s so good at giving the message out. He has such a big impact on our school,” Nagel said.

Members of the student government participated in a breakout session with Cabe so they can implement his teachings. They also plan to do campaigns and meet further on the topic.

“It definitely gives me a different outlook. Now I’ll notice what people are actually saying,” said ASB Inter High Rocco Strain.

“We want to encourage people to be open-minded,” said ASB president Christina Alexander.

“And not to be ignorant,” added Senior Class Inter High Regina Carter.

“Don’t be little, be big,” Alexander said, another of Cabe’s teachings.

Carter said that since this year’s theme is transformation, Cabe’s presentation was great. The idea of kindness as a weapon impacted her the most and she plans to work on that, even when it’s tough.

Since school is like a second home to many students, “The main goal of ASB in Oak Harbor is to change generations for the better,” Alexander said.

 

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