Shields Elementary first-graders learn tolerance, respect (Video)

  • DON'T LAUGH AT ME- LYRICS

  • I'm a little boy with glasses

    The one they call the geek

    A little girl who never smiles

    'Cause I've got braces on my teeth

    And I know how it feels

    To cry myself to sleep

    I'm that kid on ...

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  • DON'T LAUGH AT ME- LYRICS

    I'm a little boy with glasses

    The one they call the geek

    A little girl who never smiles

    'Cause I've got braces on my teeth

    And I know how it feels

    To cry myself to sleep

    I'm that kid on every playground

    Who's always chosen last

    A single teenage mother

    Tryin' to overcome my past

    You don't have to be my friend

    But is it too much to ask

    I'm the cripple on the corner

    You've passed me on the street

    And I wouldn't be out here beggin'

    If I had enough to eat

    And don't think I don't notice

    That our eyes never meet

    I lost my wife and little boy when

    Someone crossed that yellow line

    The day we laid them in the ground

    Is the day I lost my mind

    And right now I'm down to holdin'

    This little cardboard sign ... so

    I'm fat, I'm thin, I'm short, I'm tall

    I'm deaf, I'm blind, hey, aren't we all

    Don't laugh at me

    Don't call me names

    Don't get your pleasure from my pain

    In God's eyes we're all the same

    Someday we'll all have perfect wings

    Don't laugh at me

    Source: cowboylyrics.com

Even without saying a word, they said so much.

First-grade students at Shields Elementary School incited sniffles from their audience with their rendition of the country song "Don't Laugh At Me."

But it wasn't their high-pitched sincerity that resonated with their parents and siblings. It was the way the students manifested the meaning of the song, by using sign language to communicate a message about respect and tolerance.

"It's about caring. People who are hurt, you should always care about them. People laugh at them, and they get sad," said one student, William Boehl.

The first-grade class has been learning the song and the sign language accompanying it since December. It's part of a "Don't Laugh At Me" curriculum that counselor Tammy Boehl brought into the school.

Along with a new language, students have been learning about kindness and fairness, about how it feels to be teased and what to do if they see someone being bullied. They were set to debut their skills later in the year, but the students had worked so hard, they were ready for primetime at Tuesday's PTO meeting.

"I've been practicing every day I got home. I've even been practicing not on school days," said first-grader Vincint Vasquez.

After the performance, Vincint, William and their friend Nathaniel Rivera were high-energy following their moment on stage.

"I was about to explode with happiness. No, really, I'm not kidding," Vincint said.

The students said they were excited to not only learn sign language and perform for their families, but to also put into practice the lessons they'd been taught.

"If one of my friends were bullied, I'd get with them because bullies don't like a big group of people," William said.

Then bullies certainly wouldn't have liked the class of Shields first-graders, united, reminding others through voice and sign that "In God's eyes we're all the same. Someday we'll all have perfect wings."

Clapping rang throughout the room, as the students took a bow and began to walk off stage. Then, a man yelled from the back.

"Encore!"

Without hesitation, the students obliged.