Wilton Warrior Words: Kids on the block

Zachary Sherman

Zachary Sherman

Hearst Connecticut Media

For over 20 years, a puppeteer theater troupe of high school juniors and seniors have performed for the second-grade class at Miller-Driscoll. I vividly remember my second-grade performance as one of my older cousins was a puppeteer and my great aunt and uncle were in the audience. For those of you who have been in the school district since second grade, you may recall seeing this show titled “Kids on the Block.” For most of you, it may not have made the lasting impression that it made on me. At age 7, I said, “I’m going to be in that performance.”

Fast forward to high school where I heard about “Kids in the Block” again and remembered how much I loved the show. Unfortunately, I found out that it is not something you can just sign up to do. Trust me, I would have run to put my name on the list. The “Kids on the Block” show is part of Peervention, an organization where students chosen by faculty are trained to assist other students through difficult situations. Luckily, a teacher who still to this day remains unknown to me, recommended me to Mr. Pompa for Peervention. To that unknown person, I extend a huge thank you now.

You must be wondering by now what “Kids on the Block” is. It’s a troupe of puppets with and without disabilities who through performance educate kids on disabilities and teach them that everyone is unique, bullying is not OK and encourages the kids to ask and answer questions. The show conveys a message of acceptance and tolerance.

On Tuesday nights, both last year and this year, starting in February and meeting for weekly rehearsals, I have learned how to become a puppeteer along with a group of my peers. I know it’s not your typical high school activity, but it is a very important one. My alter ego behind the four-foot-tall puppet is Ronaldo: a blind teenager.

There is a line in the “Kids on the Block” script that I will always remember. It is “Sticks and stones can break my bones and names can really hurt me.” As I reflect back on 13 years in this school district, I can say that I have seen my share of incidences that have resulted in hurt feelings of students. I have also seen programs like this one and others like “Names Can Really Hurt” for sophomores that I sincerely believe have had a positive impact on our schools.

I am excited to return to Miller-Driscoll once again to perform for the second graders in a few weeks. Maybe one of them will go home and tell their parents, “I’m going to be in that performance” just like I did so many years ago. Maybe a few of them will at least remember the positive message and just be kind or kinder. No matter what happens or how the performance goes, I will always be proud to have been a part of Peervention and “Kids on the Block '” while at Wilton High School.

Zachary Sherman is a senior at Wilton High School. He shares this column with three classmates.