St. John Valley

Fort Kent students learn approach to defeat bullying through positivity

FORT KENT, Maine —  The Fort Kent Community High School gym was alive with positive energy and fun when youth speaker Josh Drean delivered an anti-bullying presentation to students on Friday, Dec. 6. 

 

Drean is a Harvard University student with a degree in psychology from Brigham Young University who has been featured on NBC Morning News, FOX News and has reached out to more than 100,000 students across the United States and Canada. He has a unique approach to combating bullying through his “Defeat Bullying Positively” presentation. 

“A lot of anti-bullying programs and speakers focus on the negatives, like abuse and suicide,” Drean said. “Research shows that when we focus on the negatives, the results are negative. My program seeks to reinforce positive behaviors in students by inspiring them to choose to be kind and respectful.”

At Friday’s presentation, Drean used beatboxing – which is a form of vocal percussion that imitates sounds of a drum machine using voice, tongue, lips and mouth — and comedy to entertain the students while delivering his message.

Students cheered as Drean effectively beatboxed songs incorporating the vocal sounds of animals such as a pig, cow, chicken, goat and moose. 

Anti-bullying speaker Josh Drean (far left) enlisted Fort Kent Community High School students from left, Larry Nadeau, Kaden Deschaine and Hannah Chasse to participate in a presentation at the school on Friday, Nov. 6. (Jessica Potila | SJVT).

He said that he moved to Boston to become a street performing beatboxer and received little feedback for his efforts at first. His message to students was to find what they love to do. “Find your Because,” he said. 

Drean encouraged the students to work toward their dreams, no matter how others perceive the goal.

“Find who you want to be and do that,” Drean told the students. “There’s gonna be a point in your life where people stop laughing at you and start listening to you.”

Drean enlisted three students in the crowd to take to the gymnasium floor and dance while wearing silly costumes including a shark head, cat head and banana outfit. 

He praised the audience for responding positively to the students who courageously came before them and agreed to take part in what might be considered odd behavior. 

Drean said that we currently have a “culture of negativity where people always roast each other and always put people down,” especially with regard to social media.

He encouraged the students to consider how others might feel when they are disregarded or mocked. 

“Stop and think, ‘I wonder what they’re going through’,” Drean said. 

He also said that students have a responsibility to their community to behave in a way that is respectful and kind.

“The minute you become a Warrior it is not about you, it’s about what you stand for,” he said, pointing out that students’ behaviors reflect not only on themselves but also on their friends, families, sports teams and religion.

Fort Kent Community High School and Valley Rivers Middle School dean of students and assistant principal Steve Doucette said the presentation was commissioned by a new Climate and Culture Team SAD 27 formed to promote positive changes for staff and students in the district.

“We want them to enjoy their experience here and try to maximize their positive experience here and squash the negative,” Doucette said.  

The team aims to promote collaboration and tolerance among students, according to Doucette. 

“Academics is one small piece of the puzzle. To have success in life you also need good interpersonal and social skills,” Doucette said. “School is just a springboard, a stepping stone to their future and good habits are formed now.”

For information about Josh Drean visit his webpage at joshdrean.com

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