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GBMS concert
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Andrea Gardner, Great Bend Middle School vocal teacher, right, directs Xitlaly Espino, Priscila Garcia and Kassidy LeRoy during a rehearsal for an upcoming concert. About 500 seventh and eighth grade students have pooled their talents to produce an anti-bullying rap program.

Great Bend Middle School students are kicking bullying to the curb – in a positive way.
All 500 students of Andrea Gardner, vocal music teacher, will present a theme-based, anti-bullying concert at the Great Bend High School Auditorium next week. The concerts will be performed by individual cores for a total of six times.
“Since all students take choir at the middle school, we have them split into three different groups each night,” Gardner explained. “They sing all the same music, but each group has written its own song that addresses the issue of bullying. All the students were involved in helping to create the lyrics and music to their rap song creation. There are also solos in some of the songs.”
On Monday, Jan. 28, seventh graders in core 7-1 will perform at 7 p.m., core 7-2 will sing at 7:45 p.m., followed by core 7-3 at 8:20 p.m. On Thursday, Jan. 31, eighth graders in core 8-1 will perform at 7 p.m., followed by core 8-2 at 7:45 p.m., and core 8-3 at 8:20 p.m.
“All of the music has a positive message about friendship and getting along,” Gardner said. “The students have composed a rap that is against bullying and focuses on how to treat each other with kindness.
“We used GarageBand to create an accompaniment track to use,” she said. “They will be sharing dialogue at the concert that ties in with the theme of each song.
“This is the first time we have had such a theme,” Gardner noted. “I felt it was important to focus on the issue of bullying because it is a problem the students face in many more ways now. Not only do some get bullied in person, but with the advancement of technology, many are seeing it online and with texting.
“Since I have all the students ages 12-14, I thought, ‘What a better way to focus on bullying than to have a concert addressing it?’” she explained. “Plus, with music you can be expressive and the students can feel emotions as they perform.
“We have also been able to talk more about this issue the students face as part of the preparation as well,” she said. “I am hoping that by doing this the students may become more aware of how they treat others.
“I am so amazed at what my students have come up with for their songs,” Gardner added. “They are so creative and I am proud of them for working so hard to make this concert one of their best.
“Hopefully, the words to the music will get stuck in their head and they will remember it for years to come,” she said. “Also, I hope they hold each other more accountable for their actions.”