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      Columbia Public Schools remind students "U Matter"

      People fill the auditorium to watch the documentary, "Bully."

      Columbia Public Schools held their seventh annual "U Matter Summit" this week, encouraging students to safely navigate what can be a difficult time in their lives.

      "We've been doing a lot of assemblies over the past several days. We encourage students to make good choices, to have healthy habits and to be aware of how they treat themselves and others," Columbia Public Schools spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said.

      The summit culminated Wednesday evening with a screening of the Emmy award-winning documentary, "Bully," at Launer Auditorium on the Columbia College campus.

      "We just felt it was important to provide an opportunity for parents to come and learn more about [bullying] through an interactive event...we'll be having a panel after the film's showing this evening. Just to have some questions answered and to talk more about the topic," Baumstark said.

      One mother in the audience said she thinks it's important for parents to be aware of bullying so they can recognize warning signs and know what to do.

      "Hunter and I talk about it all the time, about whether or not he's being bullied. And we actually talked to him after he left the elementary school and went up to the sixth grade...we talked about him possibly being bullied and what to look for," Mary Acton, who has son in sixth grade, said.

      Matthew Martin, a Mizzou education student, said he plans to become a teacher some day and is already planning what to do if he enounters bullying in his classroom.

      "It's a terrible thing. I know people who have gotten bullied when they were younger, and it can really scar a kid and harm their education in the future and how they grow up," he said.