Marvelous and emotionally-riveting could be understatements describing performances April 12 by members of Randolph High School’s “Team Harmony” at a special student assembly on diversity and anti-bullying.
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, Sheriff’s Office Investigator Ashley Craig and state Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco – all champions of Morris County’s “Stigma-Free” campaign – were guests at the event that delivered powerful messages of inclusion and anti-cruelty through songs, dances and video.
“Through music, words and dance, the gifted students involved in Team Harmony showed wisdom and insight that some adults never acquire. I was very moved by the performances,” Sheriff Gannon said.
The 35 students in Team Harmony took turns onstage in vignettes that focused on the insensitivity of stereotyping people based on their ethnicities or races, body-shaming, cyber-bullying, and feelings of fear and social isolation about sexuality.
The assembly capped two weeks of activities at the high school that centered on anti-violent, inclusive and accepting modes of living and engaging with others.
Team Harmony Club Adviser Lisa Holloway joined a student in reading a poem about biases against gay people and the teen’s hopes to be loved and accepted as she is.
“Love your body like your mother loved your baby feet,” was a line from a song to which dancers in balletic style pirouetted. In slow-tempo, “You Are My Sunshine” was the musical background to a second dance about being a ray of light for others.
Team Harmony also produced a video, using students as actors, to highlight episodes of overt and subtle bullying and how one student stepped up in each scenario to protect and defend the bullied individual.
The video’s script and message was so resounding it won Kean University’s 2019 Fritz Jonach Upstander Award, presented at the assembly by Sarah Coykendall, Assistant Director of the Diversity Council at Kean University.
Don’t let bullies steal your joy and We Rise Up were among the themes of the assembly, which was praised afterward by Randolph High School Principal Debbie Iosso as a positive message delivered by brave students.