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EU grad helps counter the spread of bullying
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Kassy Menke found herself in the role of the bully.

It was a stretch for the 2009 graduate of East Union High.

“I can remember being bullied when I was young,” she said on Tuesday.

Menke was one of the main characters in the recent performance of “The Bully Chain.”

A Manteca product who also attended Neil Hafley School, she played the cyber-bully, Donna, in the Delta College production directed by James Gilbreath.

The play ran last week at Delta College and seven nearby elementary school sites.

Menke, who is majoring in theater, took part in all 11 performances that took place before an estimated 1,000 youngsters.

Included were fifth- through eighth- grade students, third- and fourth- grade classes, and even a kindergarten group.

“The show was about bullying and the affects of it,” Menke said.

Take cyber bullying.

The term, according to the National Crime Prevention Council, is defined as “when the Internet, cell phones or other devices are used to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person.”

In “The Bully Chain,” Menke’s character uses the Internet website, Space Book, to spread vicious rumors on Katie.

“It was so bad that she considered taking her own life,” said Menke, who indicated that the event was based on the real-life incident involving Phoebe Prince that occurred earlier this year.

Prince was the 15-year-old Massachusetts girl who committed suicide by hanging herself after nearly three months of routine torment by older girls via a social networking site for dating a football player. Her death shook the town of South Hadley, prompting the Massachusetts legislature to enact an anti-bullying curriculum in the state’s public schools.

“With the recent event in the news, we felt this was the perfect time to do this show,” Menke said.

Gilbreath provided the outline for the play.

He allowed the cast of about a dozen to draw on their real-life experiences of being bullied, Menke noted.

“We were allowed to create scenes and scenarios based on our lives,” she said.

The actors received kudos for their performance by the young audience.

“We tried to keep things as realistic as possible,” Menke said.

In addition, students were called on to interact with the performers on the subject matter at the conclusion of the play.

“Even though we’re done touring, there’s always chance they might bring back (the play),” said Menke, who was also involved in East Union’s drama department under the direction of instructor Annette Taser.

She hopes to continue acting after Delta College.