Girl imparts wisdom on bullying in a play

Students, parents and teachers have dreamed about an end to bullying in schools.

So has Danielle Locklair – literally.

The Whitewater Academy third-grader is putting that dream into action. She wrote a play about bullying that will be shown at the school on May 22, drawing raves from teachers about her commitment and the quality of her writing.

Earlier this year, Danielle was bothered that a friend was being called names and treated like an outcast. So she went to her guidance counselor at the school, Cynthia Johnson, and told her about the problem.

Then in late February, she had a dream that her school was putting on a play about bullying. When she woke up, she told her mother she wanted to write one.

Johnson was impressed when she saw what Danielle had written. Unfortunately, she knew of no one at the school with knowledge of how to put on a play. “I thought, ‘How am I going to do this? We’ve got to have auditions; we’ve got to have a cast; we’ve got to have a set – we’ve got to pull this all together.’ ”

She says her mother gave her the idea to call Cindy Kistenberg, associate professor of theater and communication arts at Johnson C. Smith University. “She has an expertise in putting on plays and making things happen. She was just as excited as I was.”

Kistenberg says, “My passion is using performance as a means of social change. When I learned what the play was about, I was 100 percent on board.”

That excitement grew when she saw what Danielle had written. “It’s truly her script. We’ve added a few lines here and there. … It’s amazing what this little girl has come up with.”

Danielle also has helped out at the twice-a-week rehearsals, involving 10 students, over the past month. Without giving away the plot, she says, “The bullies find out how it feels to get bullied.”

“She’s doing a lot to help with character development and a lot to help with the fluidity of the actual production,” says Arthur Miller, a graduating senior and communications arts major at JCSU, who’s helping with the theatrical production.

“When (Kistenberg) contacted me, she was saying that the script was already written. I thought she had written the script. Come to find out that Danielle had written the script, and it was really well developed and well thought out.”

Danielle’s mother, Roxanne Locklair, who has a background in theater, has been thrilled to help with the play. “I’m just so proud of her for coming up with this and how hard she’s working at it,” she says, calling Kistenberg and Johnson “great role models” for Danielle.

Danielle’s parents have been important examples for her as well. Her father, Daniel Locklair, has worked as a Charlotte firefighter for more than 13 years and has another job. Because of that schedule, he hasn’t been able to attend a rehearsal.

“When I see the play, it’s going to be the first time I’ve seen anything about it,” he says. “It’s going to be so exciting. A lot of kids, they say, “I want to do this; I want to do that.’ But for them to actually see it through at this age, it just makes you ecstatic.”

It’ll be a busy May for the family. Danielle turned 10 on May 5, but instead of having a birthday party she told her parents she wanted to go with them and siblings Cassie, 14, and Timothy, 11, to the VA hospital in Salisbury to help serve dinner to veterans.

“I wanted to show them thanks,” Danielle says.