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Orono & Bronx Kids Learn ABout Each Other: The Laramie Project


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Orono & Bronx Kids Learn ABout Each Other: The Laramie Project

ORONO, Maine - This weekend’s production of “The Laramie Project” is about bringing attention to some tough issues, while offering students the chance to learn about their peers and make some new friends.

Orono High School students have been participating in a program called Operation Breaking Stereotypes that pairs up schools from Maine with schools from New York City with the goal of addressing the issues of stereotyping and working to build awareness of the problem.

Students from Orono have been working with students from Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy in Bronx, N.Y., for several months. The Orono students went to the Bronx last fall where they put on a joint performance of “The Laramie Project.”

“I think it sends a really important message that the little things that people say and do can really add up quickly, and horrible things can happen because of things that people don’t think about,” OHS sophomore Emily Bottie, 15, said Thursday. “It’s great to show a bunch of different people this story.”

The play is based on reactions to the 1998 murder of a young gay man, Matthew Shepard, in Laramie, Wyo., and demonstrates how a small town reacted to one of the most publicized hate crimes in the country.

After the production, the students will assist in leading a discussion with the audience to talk about some of the issues brought up in the play, including homosexuality, homophobia and stereotypes.

“We need to look beyond what we see every day,” OHS sophomore Colby Brown, 16, said. “Everyone in their own way is being discriminated upon by someone somewhere. I think people need to have a reminder in today’s society. As much as we don’t want to believe it’s happening, it is.”

During their stay, local families are hosting students from the Bronx, and on Friday the students got a chance to shadow their OHS partners during the school day.

“What surprised me the most is that the kids there are exactly like us,” Brown said. “They talk a little bit different, but that’s about it. They live and do everything else just the same way we do.”

“It really surprised me how alike we were from the kids that live in the Bronx,” Bottie said. “I thought they would all be the stereotype that I have in my head.”

The students were scheduled to perform “The Laramie Project” for their peers Friday and will host a free performance open to the community at 7 p.m. today at the Church of Universal Fellowship, 82 Main St.

“Hopefully they can see what reality is as far as people discriminating — what really happens,” OHS sophomore Jake Doing, 15, said. “I’ve heard of a few things, but I never heard it’s a big problem. People don’t really come out and talk about things like that, and this is right in your face.”


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