Skip to main content

West Jordan Journal

Bullies get body slammed at local charter school

Mar 31, 2023 02:23PM ● By Jet Burnham

A “bully” gets smacked down by anti-bully professional wrestlers. (Brian Morris/Ascent Academy)

The bully, full of arrogant swagger, shouted insults and jeered at the students. Then, WHACK! The school principal came up behind him and swung a metal folding chair into his back. He slumped to the ground as the students roared with wild approval!

Ascent Academy Charter School’s anti-bullying assembly was a big hit with students. Professional wrestlers from Devotion Championship Wrestling made a big impact, pile-driving home the message again and again that being a bully is not cool.

“We’re devoted to body slamming bullying once and for all,” Manny Lemons said, owner of Devotion Championship Wrestling.

The wrestlers put on an action-packed show for the students with lots of audience participation. Students booed for the bad guys who spit out trash talk and threatened extra homework. They cheered for the good guys who put the bullies in their place in true wrestling fashion.

“As entertainers we’re telling a story—it’s all about the storyline,” wrestler Rekah Tehaka said. “We’re using what we do as wrestlers to tell that story to the children about bullying.”

The “bullies” eventually changed their ways and apologized for their behavior. Together, the heroes and the rehabilitated bullies invited the students to take an anti-bullying pledge to not be a bully and to tell an adult if they experience or witness bullying.

The wrestling exhibition assembly kicked off Kindness Week at the West Jordan campus of Ascent Academy Charter School, which was named the 2021 Charter School of the Year.

Principal Crystal Thomas had a fun time and said students loved the assembly. 

“I've been to a lot of assemblies, and that was the best one,” one ninth-grader told her.

Thomas said it was an effective tool to address the topic of bullying.

“Students deserve to have lessons brought to them in an engaging manner,” she said. “They need to see that learning about a serious topic can be exciting. One student said ‘I know they are not really fighting. They are being fun so we will listen to what they say.’ When I asked what they learned, he said ‘Don't be a bully, it's not cool.’”

Ascent Academy’s bullying policy states: “At Ascent Academy, we are committed to creating a safe and respectful learning environment for all of our students. Bullying of any kind is not tolerated and we encourage all our students to stand up for their peers if they witness bullying. We also urge our students to report any bullying to their teacher or principal. Let's all work together to keep our schools bully-free!”

The Devotion Championship wrestlers were thrilled to be a part of Kindness Week. Co-owners Lemons and Tehaka are full time international wrestlers who want to give back to the community. Tehaka said they hope their message helps stop bullying in schools and online.

Lemons said they also wanted students to come away entertained and with an understanding of what wrestling is all about.

“We’re really trying to elevate wrestling,” Lemons said. “There’s a lot of controversy about wrestling being not real, and so people frown upon it. But the entertainment aspect and connecting with the audience is what we’re really trying to use.”

Lemons said he was bullied as a kid because he was an oddball. Tehaka, who moved to Utah from American Samoa as a teenager, was picked on by other kids because her speech and clothing were different.

“Look at me now, I’m a superhero,” said Tehaka, wearing a huge champion belt at her waist. “I hope that I can relay the message to these young kids that bullying is not okay, that you should be nice to everyone, because you never know who they’re going to turn out to be.” 

Ascent Academy students participated in other Kindness Week activities such as dressing up for daily themes, participating in daily kindness challenges and learning about healthy friendships.