By Jade Ortego
Killeen Daily Herald
Iduma Elementary School fifth-graders presented research projects Tuesday on issues such as racism, cyber-bullying, vandalism, violent song lyrics, dog fighting, and "the issues, concerns or challenges that may arise from choices of self-expression."
The presentations were part of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program, which was created to encourage children to think globally and take action to solve social problems.
"They had to come up with action plans that answered, 'How can I, as a fifth-grader, fix that or address that?'" said Principal Judy Tyson.
What Tyson found most interesting, she said, was what the children are concerned about. Two examples, Tyson said, are stalking and cyber-bullying. "They get on Myspace or Facebook and someone is trying to contact them, and they know it," she said.
The children were assigned a community or staff mentor to help them with their chosen topic. For example, an undercover detective was assigned to help the group that researched gangs.
Most children had memorized talking points and were dressed up to present their research.
"I like the confidence it gives these kids. (Monday) they talked to Pre-K students and it was fascinating the way they changed their manner of speaking to so that [the younger kids] could understand," Tyson said.
Fifth-graders Patric Slider and Devon Purnell researched racism.
"I didn't know that there were so many ways to express racism," Slider said.
In their presentation, the boys discussed racist vandalism, letters, jokes and other written and verbal bigotry. Their slide-show presentation included a clip from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.
The boys said they chose their topic because, "racism is a big problem in life," Purnell said, and added that they've both witnessed racist remarks.
"We feel that everybody should be able to live their life without anybody talking about their color or race," Slider said.
The boys had a petition and a handout with steps to help stop racism, including "rejecting peer pressure," "being independent," "ignoring racist remarks," "not laughing at racist jokes," and "tell about how racist remarks make other people feel."
The boys said it will be difficult to cure this particular social ill. "Like how [another group] said it was nearly impossible to stop terrorism, only racists can stop racism," Slider said.
Contact Jade Ortego at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7553.