Buffalo’s Fish Out Of Water

© Casey Riordan Millard. Photo via AlbrightKnox.org

Merging Magic and Messages

One of the reasons my school assembly shows are so popular, both in my hometown of Buffalo NY and across the northeast, is that they are memorable. I may act goofy at times, but it is my use of magic, music, humor, and audience participation to deliver key messages that makes them stand out in students’ minds. I want children to remember the themes and key points long after the program has ended.

“Furthermore, your messages and main themes were all clearly explained and to the point. Students came away from the performance understanding what it means to be a “HERO” and how they can help those being bullied or handle it if it happened to them. I can actually say I’ve used a few of the points you made since I saw the show (making sure to tell an adult, asking the other person to stop) in dealing with interactions and issues between students.”

Thomas Lanza, Supervisor of Instruction
Cedar Grove Elementary School
Toms River Regional Schools

The flow between his magic and the H.E.R.O. message was seamless.

Anthony Cavallaro-Wallenpaupack, Principal
North Primary School
Hawley, PA

The students enjoyed the presentation, and the messages of respect and how to handle bullies was easy for kids to understand.

Carm Proctor, Principal
Jefferson Middle School
Jamestown, New York

But these messages don’t only apply to school environments. You can turn almost any situation into a teachable moment with just a little bit of imagination!

Turn A Photo Opportunity Into An Opportunity To Promote Bullying Prevention

For those who live in and around Western New York, you may be familiar with one of Canalside Buffalo’s most popular attractions for kids: Shark Girl! Shark Girl is the creation of Ohio native Casey Riordian Millard. This half-girl, half-shark sculpture is a “fish out of water” who, according to Albright Knox Art Gallery, is “seen as Millard’s diversionary tactic or as her mechanism for confronting the challenges of contemporary life. Shark Girl’s yearning and desire for normalcy and acceptance trigger equal parts laughter and empathy. The boulder on which she sits provides viewers with the opportunity to bring the work to life by taking a seat and initiating a friendship with this bizarre half-shark, half-girl.”

At her core, Shark Girl simply wants a friend. Buffalo is a diverse city known as the City of Good Neighbors––a reputation every citizen, old and young alike, should want to live up to. Unfortunately, bullying is still a problem within our schools, which makes Shark Girl‘s presence even more important.

Many children who have been bullied or who have witnessed bullying take place can relate to this idea of wanting a companion to spend your time with. Your child doesn’t need to be the “belle of the ball” but every child should have a friend. They should feel like they matter. Like they belong. No parent wants to think their child is being bullied, or worse, bullying other children. After your child takes a seat with Shark Girl, take a moment to explain her history in order to create awareness and reinforce the fact that bullying is never acceptable. Pull from my “No Bully Zone” assembly program and teach your child that everyone can be H.E.R.O. All they need to do is:

Help each other.

Empathize with other children.

Report bullying behavior.

Open Up to talk about it.

So take a trip downtown and take a picture with Buffalo’s Shark Girl! Then tag me on Instagram at @crisjohnsonsassemblies or share your photos with me on Facebook at @CrisJohnsonSchoolAssemblies.