High schoolers 'BAND' against bullying at the CFA

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The Spectrum

Curtis Vance didn't want a solo performance in the "BAND Against Bullying" event at UB. In the spirit of the evening, he decided to include all his classmates who wanted to perform.

Vance, whom his classmates call "Young World," directed the choreography and act for Williamsville. He didn't want to have an individual performer represent his school.

"This is a great cause, so I decided to incorporate everyone into it," Vance said.

The act won.

On Tuesday night, Vance and other local high school musicians gathered at the Center For the Arts and put on a competition aimed at raising community awareness against bullying.

The second annual "BAND Against Bullying" event, a high school performing arts competition with a "dignity" theme, featured seven local high schools performing in front of seven judges to spread an anti-bullying message. The acts combined striking visuals with lyrics that embraced the theme of the night.

"There [are] not enough people who stand up against bullying," said Vance, a senior at Williamsville East High School. "A lot of people see it and I know it goes on - everybody knows it goes on - but it's about what you do when you see it. Not enough people are standing up."

Over 3.2 million students annually are victims of bullying, according to the National Association of School Psychologists. The association says: over two-thirds of students think schools are not doing enough to prevent or reduce bullying attacks; one in four teachers don't see anything wrong with bullying; and teachers intervene 4 percent of the time.

BAND Against Bullying was created in September 2012 through a collaboration between M&T Bank, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the UB Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention.

"It was really important for us to give all the schools an opportunity to share their messages and raise awareness for the topic," said Mike Bryant, founder of BAND Against Bullying. "A lot of the things that are related to bullying are always negative. This is a positive opportunity for the schools to utilize a great university and allow themselves to be put in a position where they feel good about themselves."

The event began at 7 p.m. with an opening performance by Savannah King. Kiss 98.5's Janet Snyder was the emcee of the evening and provided an uplifting energy to the crowd. Some of the themes highlighted at this year's event were dignity, respect, individuality, the effects of bullying and prevention methods.

Audience members were given the chance to participate in a raffle for VIP tickets to concerts featuring Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Gavin DeGraw and David Blaine.

The schools that participated were: Amherst, Clarence, Kenmore West, Williamsville East, Williamsville North and Williamsville South high schools, as well as the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts.

The judges who participated at this year's event included Dr. Amanda Nickerson from the Alberti Center; former Sabres player Andrew Peters; UB Vice President for University Life and Services Dennis Black; Ed Suk from the NCMEC; Dr. Lynn Boorady from Buffalo State College; former boxer 'Baby' Joe Mesi; and Nicholas Picholas from Kiss 98.5.

Teams were judged on their originality, stage presentation, demonstration of the themes of dignity and awareness, collaboration and overall performance.

Williamsville East won the event with its performance titled, "Young World featuring Swing Theory," Vance's group-band performance.

Sponsors of the event included Hodgson Russ LLP, M&T Bank, Frey Electric Construction Company and Forbes Capretto Homes.

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