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By Anthony J. Gonzalez | Agent in 07748

Enrique Iglesias works with Long Branch Middle School group to turn song into anti-bullying anthem


LONG BRANCH — Apparently, there’s one thing Enrique Iglesias hates more than copyright infringement: bullying.

The pop star not only gave permission to a group of Long Branch Middle School students who sought to turn his summer hit “I Like It” into an anti-bullying anthem, but he also linked to “Bullying: We’ll Stop It” on his website, spawning a viral sensation that has garnered some 25,000 hits so far.

“What really caught my attention is that it was very, very clever to get a pop song that people knew and turn the lyrics around to something so positive,” Iglesias told The Star-Ledger in a phone interview from his Miami home. “What the students at Long Branch Middle School did is so creative, brave, and I’m so happy for the students … I hope that it helped them, even if it’s just a little bit, and the kids out there that are bullies will learn and stop bullying.”

The video also caught the attention of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who recently introduced anti-bullying and gang legislation. He invited the students to perform Sunday in honor of Black History Month at First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset.

“I was incredibly impressed with the students,” said Kellie Drakeford LeDet, Menendez’s chief of staff. “I love that they are taking initiative to spread the word on anti-bullying in a time when gangs are running rampant.”

The video project grew out of a discussion spawned by the September suicide of Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi, whose roommate secretly taped his intimate encounter with another man.

 Video of Long Branch Middle School performing 'Bullying We'll Stop It'
Video of Long Branch Middle School performing ‘Bullying We’ll Stop It’
A group of 8th graders at Long Branch Middle School used the beat of the song ‘I Like It,’ by Enrique Iglesias to write their own song ‘Bullying We’ll Stop It’ to make their community more aware of bullying and the impact it can have on people. This is their music video, directed by Grant Brown. (Video courtesy of Long Branch Middle School Anti-Bullying Crew) Watch video

“People are killing themselves over bullying,” said Jessica Rojas, one of the students involved in the project. “School to me is a place where I should feel safe. It should not be a place I’m afraid to be picked on and humiliated in front of my whole class.”

Eighth grade teacher Jamie Sanders asked her class what they could do to prevent bullying at the school.

Inspired by the 2008 YouTube video “Vote However You Like,” in which students at Atlanta’s Ron Clark Academy remixed rapper T.I’s “Whatever You Like,” the Long Branch students brainstormed lyrics and sought a chart-topping song to help spread their message. “I Like It” was the natural fit.

In a middle segment of the “Glee”-like music video, a teenage girl roams the cafeteria at Long Branch Middle School searching for a group to share lunch with. Each table of kids denies the girl, until finally she sits to chew her sandwich alone. After school, the teen clutches a pillow on her bed to weep from the day’s anguish.

The video continues over the catchy melody of Iglesias’ summer hit song, except the chorus goes, “Bullying, we’ll stop it/ it’s taking over our school/ Bullying, we’ll stop it/ you know it’s really not cool” as more than two dozen eighth graders dance in a V-shape toward the camera.

Long Branch students remix Enrique Iglesias song to help stop bullying 
Long Branch students remix Enrique Iglesias song to help stop bullying
   After the suicide of Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi last fall, a group of 8th graders at the Long Branch Middle School came together and wrote a song to make their community more aware of bullying and the impact that it can have. They used the beat of the song “I Like It,” by Enrique Iglesias and changed the lyrics to deliver their message. (2/10/2010) video by Andrew Mills Watch video

Sanders and co-teacher Courtney Davis helped the students reach Iglesias’ management team for permission to re-use the song. “We’ve all been through bullying at some point or another,” Iglesias said. “Always in high school or middle school when you are trying to fit in, there is that someone that comes along and tries to bring you down.” (Iglesias, who performed in Atlantic City earlier this month, promised to invite the class to a future show.)

The students spent three months filming the video, transforming classrooms into sets and turning one room into a recording studio with the help of Guy Daniels of City Lights Recording Studio. Eighth-grader Grant Brown teamed with teacher Kristen Catrambone to plan the storyboard, and Brown filmed the entire project himself, discovering the difficulties of shooting inside without professional lighting.

Teachers Sanders and Davis say they cried after the first viewing.

“We knew this would be big right away,” Sanders said. “The kids deserve all the credit here. They did it all. We sat back and watched in awe.”

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/02/enrique_iglesias_works_with_lo.html

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