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“Open to all!” On a late November morning, the daily announcements progressed as usual. That was, until Breaking Down the Walls announced that its next meeting would have an open-door policy.

Breaking Down the Walls is no longer the same club, in which a few select members give anti-bully presentations to their peers at Central and local middle schools. Breaking Down the Walls is adding a second component to its arsenal: Reel World Central, which now allows for universal membership.

“We are a new technology medium devoted to serving as a resource to victims of cyber-bullying, abuse, suicide prevention, self-esteem issues, and any other topics that pertain to high-school life,” said senior and creator and president of Reel World Central Sara Klepacki.

As Reel World Central attempts to fight the ongoing bullying epidemic, it intends to use unconventional tactics to do so. Reel World Central is a YouTube channel through which Central students can speak with their peers at Central and at other high schools through social networking and video communications. “Every couple of months, Reel World Central will post a video on YouTube, and the video will be public, so anybody and everybody can see it,” Klepacki said.

Many students in the school have wondered about the apparent paradox of Breaking Down the Walls. It was a club that championed social inclusion and compassion that refused to incorporate all of the students that wished to join. Because of this contradiction, there has been a perceived divide between members of the club and other members of the Central community. “The reality is that we can’t fit everybody that wants to be in BDTW in a school bus [when traveling to other schools],” Klepacki said.

Regardless, the quota is not consistent with the club’s stated philosophy of breaking down the walls of intolerance. “That is where the new club Reel World Central comes in. Everybody can join,” Klepacki said.

As BDTW’s attempts to expand its presence, the club’s members grapple with the changing nature of the club. “Breaking Down the Walls has been criticized in the past for being hypocritical because, although it is an invite-only club, it spreads the message of being inclusive,” said Dan Cassin, senior and first-year member of the club.

Although criticized for being murky and somewhat nontransparent, the club’s selection process has remained consistent. “Breaking Down the Walls’ members are selected by a senior from the previous year who believes that a student should be a part of the club because of his or her character. Both my brother and sister were in the club when they were in high school,” Cassin said.

Many of the club’s members have had older siblings participate, and given the club’s selection process, BDTW has been charged with nepotistic tendencies. Cassin, however, even with siblings previously in the club, wasn’t selected until this year, somewhat disproving this notion.

Mrs. Pam Kalafut, the long-time sponsor the club and the new sponsor of Reel World Central, champions the merits of the new component of Breaking Down the Walls. “It’s just another tool for presenting an anti-bullying message. You know, can’t we all just get along?” Kalafut said.

Kalafut, a believer in social inclusiveness, feels that interested students should always pursue their extra-curricular passions. “Why shouldn’t students join any club if they’re interested? If there’s interest, go for it. Anybody and everybody can join Reel World Central,” Kalafut said.

Although associated with BDTW, Reel World Central’s purpose remains separate from the parent club’s. BDTW will continue to consume the anti-bullying limelight, while Reel World Central operates through YouTube, creating a few videos a year to show the detestable results of school-aged harassment.

“This channel isn’t going to be one big public service announcement or preaching center. Out goal is to really cover all bases and provide videos that are realistic, helpful, inspiring, and entertaining for young people to watch. Yes, there will be funny videos!” Klepacki said.

Reel World Central has already reached the Central community. Its Facebook group currently has over 50 members, and many of them are underclassmen who can continue to build the club over the next few years. At the moment, Reel World’s YouTube channel contains no videos, but as the year progresses, various videos targeting different aspects of bullying will be added to the channel. “Hopefully young people will stumble upon our channel’s videos and think that our videos and messages are worth sharing,” Klepacki said.

To promote its message and ideas, Reel World Central has created a website, reelworldcentral.com, to garner interest in the club and its videos. While bullying has always been difficult to curtail, Reel World Central is confident it can make an immediate, tangible difference in changing people’s minds about the consequences and repercussions of school-aged bullying.

Reel World Central is Breaking Down the Walls’ attempt to engage the Central community through the usage of twenty-first century technology to combat the long-lived bullying epidemic. Now, by simply liking a Facebook page, surfing Reel World’s home page, or commenting on a few videos, any student can all makes strides to combat Central’s– and society’s–pervasive bullying epidemic.

 

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The news site of Hinsdale Central High School
Be nice; you’re on camera