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

By KBell
Feb. 11, 2012 at midnight
Updated Feb. 11, 2012 at 8:12 p.m.


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.

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