Making a push against bullying

Plain white paper with insults scrawled across it stars in an anti-bullying video produced by a 14-year-old Newport Beach girl.

Students from Ensign Intermediate School hold up the words covering their faces in the black-and-white clip: Fat. Stupid. Gross.

Then each one holds an insult chest-high, showing her face above an insult that's been hurled at her: Worthless. Dumb blonde. Traitor. Slut.

"The pictures that don't show their face, that's names you hear people being called, but the ones where they show their face, that's one that relates to them," said Molly McWhertor, the Ensign student who conceived, shot and edited the 2-minute, 30-second video, "Words Hurt."

An Ensign teacher had challenged Molly and classmates to enter a nationwide creativity competition put on by the Be Kind People Project, a nonprofit dedicated to kindness in the classroom.

Molly's video won, and Ensign has started using it in its Community of Kindness curriculum that started this year to teach the antithesis of selfishness.

With it, Ensign has set quarterly goals for students to show kindness. They've progressed from kindness in the home to random acts of kindness next quarter.

Along the way, students have been encouraged to find their own message and methods of kindness.

When science teacher Kari Rush suggested Molly and friends enter the contest, they took on something they'd seen themselves: bullying.

"I think it affects all of us greatly because we see it at our own school, like in the halls at lunch and in classrooms. We just want to try to stop it and prevent it," said Karson Speth, 14.

After inviting friends over to film one afternoon, Molly spent about a month editing the final product.

On Oct. 10, she handed it over to Rush, who was able to submit it just before the midnight deadline that night.

In December, Rush got to announce that their production won and a cheer erupted, she said.

"The kids really want to do something. They just don't know what or how," Rush said. "It's really been a process. This year there's a lot more ownership by the students."

Molly has a suggestion for her fellow students in the video. She and her friends sit on camera, encouraging others to be careful about what they say.

Then the harsh words are replaced by complimentary ones: Helpful. Honest. Positive.

At the video's conclusion, a girl holds a piece of paper with one word on it, "Bullying." She rips it in half and walks off camera.

Twitter: @jeremiahdobruck

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