‘Dummies’ show talks about another type of dummies

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 4, 2005

On the John Yeates Middle School stage

Thursday morning, Stephen Brubaker did a ventriloquism act with a few puppets. He impersonated everyone from Mr. Rogers to M.C. Hammer. His wife Stephanie darted up and down the aisles, singing and high-fiving students.

Yes, there was a light atmosphere to the show &uot;Stephen and Other Dummies,&uot; held as part of the school’s No Bullies Allowed week. But the purpose of the performance, and its message, were very serious.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;I’ve met thousands of people in my life, teachers, principals, parents, and students who didn’t have anyone to hold them up in support,&uot; Brubaker said, holding up one of the puppets. &uot;I don’t want anyone to end up with a boring, empty life. Parents and teachers are on your side. Don’t put them on the other side and start a war.

&uot;The bully thing has gotten out of control in the past five years,&uot; he said. &uot;It’s a problem in every state. Today, 180,000 kids didn’t go to school because they were scared.&uot;

Sitting in the audience, Alexandra Ambrosino was one student who could relate.

&uot;I’ve had some people hit me,&uot; said the sixth-grader after the program. &uot;There was one girl who hit me and wouldn’t stop. Some people think it’s fun and games to hit other people and call them names, and it’s really not.&uot;

Fortunately for Ambrosino, a witness helped stand up for her and went to the administration, and her tormenter was punished.

&uot;(The program) helps people understand that it’s wrong,&uot; she said.

There can be a number of reasons for bullying, Brubaker said.

&uot;When you make fun of somebody,&uot; he said, &uot;it might not last a day, a week, a month. It can last a lifetime. But it’s not about you when you’re getting picked on; something in the bully’s life is making them lash out at you. Some kids have a bad home life that nobody knows about, so school is the only place where they feel good.&uot;

That’s a situation that Stephanie faced, growing up with a pair of alcoholic parents.

&uot;You use what you’ve been through to empower others,&uot; she said. &uot;I wouldn’t trade (my upbringing) for anything. When these kids see someone else going through what they went through, it makes them feel better.&uot;

Lindsay Dougherty has witnessed her classmates going through similar situations.

&uot;I’ve seen bullying,&uot; said the sixth-grader. &uot;It made me really mad and upset, because it makes kids sad when they’re being bullied.&uot;

Brubaker pulled on a cardigan that was about two sizes too small, and Mr. Rogers’ &uot;Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood&uot; began to play.

&uot;Mr. Rogers was an incredible guy,&uot; he said. &uot;He had a message that everybody wants to belong, and we all want to feel special.&uot;

He pointed to the stickers adorned on each student’s chest that they’d received before the show began, displaying a &uot;No Bullies&uot; slogan.

&uot;Don’t just wear the sticker,&uot; he proclaimed. &uot;Be the sticker!&uot;

After the show, the Manheim, Pa. native said, &uot;Kids these days have to be entertained.

You can’t just go preaching in a three-piece suit. We try to come in as a real show. Making them laugh is nice, but we try to give them something they can keep with them.&uot;

Brubaker has performed the show around the country for three decades.