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Students learn about being "Sweethearts and Heroes"

March 30, 2016

Sweethearts and Heroes assembly














Schalmont elementary and middle school students were treated to a special assembly last week by Sweethearts and Heroes that focused on what students can do as bystanders when they witness bullying.

The program, sponsored by Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, features Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Tom Murphy and special guest, Rick Yarosh, a retired sergeant with the U.S. Army injured in Iraq, who suffered burns over most of his body.

Murphy began by discussion the definition of bully and how it changed over the years. The original 1530 definition of the word “bully” meant “sweetheart” or someone who pushed you to be your best. It was a positive thing. In today’s language, it has evolved to mean habitual behavior that intimidates smaller or weaker people through intentional actions.

Murphy spoke about five specific “Bully Buttons” that combine to form a call to action against bullying.

Tom MurphyPerspective

In any bullying situation, there are three segments of the population: those being bullied, the bullies, and the bystanders. Murphy said often times, people don’t set out to be bullies, but perhaps something is happening in their lives to cause them to act out. Maybe they are being beaten at home. Just like you may not know that the student who gets picked on for wearing the same pants every day is actually sleeping on the floor of his aunt’s trailer because his mom got arrested and that his uncle doesn’t want him in the house. The reality of any situation depends upon the perspective used to view it.


Sometimes things get so bad in someone’s life that they give up all hope. According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide is the second highest cause of death for people age 10-24.

“Some kids are habitually bullied for years until they wake up and believe they are stupid and a loser and have no reason to live,” Murphy said.

Murphy tells students that they always need to remember H.O.P.E.: Hold On Possibilities Exist.

Murphy introduced his friend Yarosh to the students.

Yarosh recounted the military accident that left him severely burned and with an amputated leg. He shared is struggle on the path of recovery and of the many times he gave up home. And how sometimes, when you need it most, someone will do or say something that will give you hope again.


Rick YaroshThe people who can return HOPE are what Murphy calls sweethearts.

“Every one of you have the ability to be a sweetheart,” he told students. “You have the power to give people hope.”

Yarosh said sometimes it is as simple as giving a compliment. After years of seeing how children reacted to his injuries, Yarosh was beginning to lose hope. But one day in a restaurant, a little girl approached him. He said hi and she ran back to her grandfather. Yarosh was devastated until he heard her tell her grandfather that Yarosh was a nice man. That little girl was a sweetheart who restored hope to Yarosh.

Being a sweetheart can be as simple as giving a compliment or even just saying hi when someone looks like they could use it, Murphy said.

Jump Into Action

Murphy said statistics show that most bullying incidents can be defused if some form of action is taken within the first 10 seconds.

Murphy armed students with an ABC an action plan to stop bullying when they witness it.

“People rarely die in a fire because we teach them stop, drop, and roll. I’m going to teach you the stop, drop, and roll of what to do when you see someone being bullied,” he told the students.

Away – When you see someone is being harassed, get them away. Murphy said this could be as simple as walking up to the student and saying, “Hey, Mrs. Smith is looking for you” and walking away with them. The purpose is to remove the person from the situation.

Buddy – Sometimes people just need a buddy. Walk up to that student and offer a student him or her a chance to sit at your table at lunch. Ask them to help you with a math problem.

Confront – Confront the bully or tell a trusted adult who can do something about it.


Heroes are those people who are willing to jump into action.

“Everyone in here can be a hero,” Murphy said. “You know have the steps to do it.”