Author uses lunch with students as an anti-bullying pulpit

By Brenda Maguire
Correspondent

BERLIN — It would have been easy for Doug Wilhelm, author of “The Revealers,” to talk about himself while having lunch with Catherine M. McGee Middle School students, but he didn’t want that.

Instead, Wilhelm spent three lunch periods this week asking students about their life experiences — all in an effort to address the sensitive topic of bullying.

“I always want to get a chance to sit and talk to a small group,” he said. “That’s my favorite part of every day.”

Wilhelm made a day-long visit to McGee, on Norton Road in Berlin, to meet and speak with students about “The Revealers,” which they read as part of a summer reading assignment.

“It’s a once in a lifetime chance to meet an author,” said Dylan Friedman, a seventh-grader from East Berlin. Friedman’s favorite part of lunch was learning that Wilhelm played in a band.

Wilhelm began each lunch period by having the students and teachers introduce themselves and share an interesting fact or story about themselves. He touched on every person’s story in one way or another. The luncheon was held in the library.

Wilhelm mentioned a student who told of being hit by a bus and another who fixes his friends’ bikes as some of the more interesting stories he heard.

“What I enjoy most is when you learn something that surprises you,” he said.

“We talked about what books we like and what topics we like in books and we really got to know him,” said Caroline Daigle, a sixth-grader from Berlin.

Before lunch on Tuesday, Wilhelm talked to eighth-grade students in an assembly. He spoke about how his middle school experiences with bullying helped influence his book.

“I was different and when you’re different in middle school, it’s not easy.” He later added, “I had anti-cool power.”

Eighth-grader Kaileen Langlois was selected to read a passage from her essay about Wilhelm during the assembly. “The book was such a wonderful book, I couldn’t believe it,” she read.

“The Revealers” is about three middle school students, Russell, Elliot and Catalina, who are bullied. The trio band together to fight back by sending schoolwide e-mails telling stories of bullying incidents at their school.

“I was just trying to write a good story they could relate to,” Wilhelm said.

He spoke at assemblies for each grade level before the luncheon. It was also planned for him to have two writing workshops with 50 students in each one and to host an evening program for students and their parents.

The sequel to “The Revealers” is set to come out Dec. 1 and is titled “True Shoes.” The book focuses on cyberbullying.

More information about Wilhelm and his books can be found at http://dougwilhelm.com/.

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