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Beating bullying

Magician’s performances teaching students in Altoona schools about abusive behavior

February 28, 2008
By Amanda Clegg,
Chris “Doc” Dixon asked Juniata Gap Elementary School students to close their eyes and think of a bully.

He then asked the kindergarten through third-graders to raise their hands if they were thinking of a boy. Most of them were.

When thinking of a bully, the image of a boy picking on a smaller child comes to mind, but girls and small children can bully, too.

‘‘Big, small, girl, boy: It doesn’t matter who it is done to; bullying hurts,’’ Dixon said.

The lesson was part of the Bully-free Amazing Wonder Show performed throughout the week at the Altoona Area School District’s 10 elementary schools.

Dixon visited Juniata Gap Wednesday, where he also performed for the upper grades earlier in the day.

He will present a program for parents and community members at 7 p.m. today in the Altoona Area High School auditorium.

The Pittsburgh-based comedy magician takes his educational show on the road to teach kindergarten through eighth-grade students his Four S.T.A.R. Step approach to stop bullying.

The approach, which spells out the word star, is:

-- Stick together.

-- Tell the bully to stop.

-- Alert adults at school and home.

-- Respect others and treat them the way you want to be treated.

Counselor Heather Diehl said bullying is an ongoing issue in the schools. Diehl, who counsels at Juniata Gap and Penn-Lincoln elementaries, said school officials are taking a proactive approach to the matter and want to make school a haven for students.

‘‘We take bullying very seriously,’’ Diehl said. ‘‘My main goal is to empower the kids to help one another.’’

The school district’s counseling department received a $5,600 grant from the Altoona Area School District Foundation to fund the program.

Dixon said he started out offering a variety of topics for school assemblies, but schools began requesting the bullying program more than any other until it became the only program he offers.

For more information on the program, visit

Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Clegg is at 949-7030.

Article Photos

(Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski)
Matthew Reese, a fifth-grader at Juniata Gap Elementary School, is presented a playing card by Chris “Doc” Dixon Wednesday during the Bully-free Amazing Wonder Show.

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