Our Lady Queen of Heaven anti-bullying club spreading word

By By Ashley Withers / American Press

Students at Our Lady Queen of Heaven School are showing the world they “Can’t Back Down” in the fight against bullying.

The Students With Anti-Bullying Goals Club entered a lip-dub video in two national contests, the Catholic Mutual’s School

Safety Contest and the National School Climate Center’s BullyBust Campaign video contest, and won both last school year.

The winning video showcased club members lip-synching and dancing to Demi Lovato’s “Can’t Back Down.”

Now it’s time for the school to cash in on its prizes.

The grand prize for Catholic Mutual’s School Safety Contest was $10,000 for OLQH. The BullyBust Campaign prize was a $500

grant and a special visit from a cast member of Broadway’s “Wicked.”

The cast member will visit OLQH on Wednesday. Students will be able to dress up as characters from the musical, and the school

will host a special anti-bullying pep rally.

Sue Ellen Stokeld, counselor and sponsor of the SWAG Club, said the award-winning group began in October 2011 and attracted

about 120 members.

Stokeld said OLQH had a few bullying incidents and she wanted to fix the problem before it grew any larger.

“I thought, ‘We can start this club. We can prevent bullying, and we can give resources to the students so they feel like

they have a place to go,’ ” Stokeld said. “There was a great response.”

The club’s message resonated with several students.

“I have experienced bullying. I really wanted to be a part of the prevention of it,” said seventh-grader Timothy Curol.

“It’s not a fun thing to be bullied. I knew that it should stop. I just didn’t know how. I wanted to join because I thought

it would be a great thing for our school,” said Gaby Welling, a seventh-grader.

The SWAG club set to work planning its contest entry almost immediately after the group formed. Stokeld said a lot of ideas

were tossed around, but that ultimately the lip-dub video won out.

“I couldn’t wait to see what the video would be. There were so many ideas, but it turned out good,” Curol said.

“I thought instantly that it was going to be a bunch of fun for a good cause,” Welling said. “It was so much fun to film.”

The students are excited about the grand prizes and Wednesday’s events.

“I think it’s just going to be so fun to see the whole school in costumes,” Welling said. “Our science teacher even told me

she is going to dress up.”

“I can’t wait to see people’s interpretations of the costumes. I’ve seen the play three or four times,” Curol said. “I like

it a lot.”

Stokeld said the SWAG Club will enter the contests again.

“I just got an email about the second annual Safety in the Schools contest. I called them and asked, ‘Can we win it again?’

and they said, ‘Yes.’ So I plan on entering that one again next year,” Stokeld said.

She said the only problem now is figuring out how to top the last video.

“We’re just a normal school in Lake Charles, and we’ve won two national contests. I think anybody could do something like

this,” Welling said. “The best part is not only did we win, but it’s actually reaching people.”

Online: www.catholicmutual.org; www.schoolclimate.org/bullybust.