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WWE stars, musician, actress lead anti-bullying rally at La Mirada's Los Coyotes Middle School
By Mike Sprague, Staff Writerwhittierdailynews.com
Posted: 02/23/2012 08:19:42 PM PST

LA MIRADA - A group of entertainers from the movie, music and wrestling world brought an anti-bullying message Thursday to Los Coyotes Middle School.

Michael Gregory "The Miz" Mizanin and Diva Eve Marie Torres of World Wrestling Entertainment, rock musician James Durbin, an "American Idol" star and actress Rachel Cook spoke to about 650 students at the school.

They asked the students to be a "STAR," an acronym for Show Tolerance and Respect.

"I challenge you to be more positive in your life," said Mizanin, 31. "When you have something negative you want to say to somebody, switch it to the positive."

The program was put together by an alliance of the Creative Coalition, which connects celebrities with good causes, and the WWE.

The anti-bullying campaign, in which celebrities go to school campuses across the United States to talk to students, began in April 2011.

Celebrities have gone to about a dozen schools in that time, said Robin Bronk, chief executive officer of the Creative Coalition.

The message was important, said some students.

"It was really


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great," said eighth-grader Amanda Duran, 14. "It was very insightful."
Another eighth-grader, Lauren Peart, 14, called it important.

"What they said is true," Peart said.

Durbin talked to the students about his personal experiences with bullying.

Durbin, 23, was diagnosed with Tourette's syndrome, which causes uncontrollable movements and sounds, and Asperger syndrome at the age of 10.

"Every day when I got to school, I was bullied all day," he said. "I got to the point of where I was late to school every single day."

Durbin said he was a walking target because he was different.

As a result, he was often beat up until he finally told somebody.

"It's a hard thing to do," he said. "You don't want to be a rat."

Torres, 27, said bullying has changed over time.

"When we think of bullying we think of someone pushing you in the back," she said. "Now it takes on many different forms, in particular cyberbullying."

Mizanin said he remembers bullying in school where you would feel you didn't want to go.

"You were depressed and miserable," he said. "Why do you have to live that way? They shouldn't."

Los Coyotes Principal Sylvia Begtrup said the messages from the entertainers were wonderful.

"I was really impressed with the quality and interest they took in our kids," she said. "They just did a nice job of showing they're vulnerable and still can follow their dreams."

Begtrup said the school puts out anti-bullying messages, especially at the beginning of the year. Counselors go into each room to talk about it and students are asked to sign antibullying pledges.

"But you know, in the midyear you need a reminder," she said.

Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Lakewood, who has introduced legislation in the past to criminalize cyberbullying and require schools and school districts to ban bullying and harassment, praised the event.

"I thought the kids were excited," Sanchez said. "I thought it went fabulous. Clearly the kids were impressed with the speakers."