MARIETTA - The simple message of being nice to others is being spread across Marietta and neighboring West Virginia schools by musician Nate DiRuzza, who started off his three-day Marietta tour at Phillips Elementary School Wednesday morning.
DiRuzza, who performs in schools across the country, is a native of Alliance, Ohio, and a 2010 graduate of Marietta College.
With his "Keep on Being You" concert, DiRuzza brought kindergarten through fifth grade students at Phillips a musical show interlaced with messages about bullying, pursuing dreams and helping others.
Photo by Jackie Runion
Students at Phillips Elementary School watch motivational musician Nate DiRuzza perform a series of guitar tricks at an assembly Wednesday morning, part of a tour of the Mid-Ohio Valley that includes Marietta and West Virginia schools.
"I want you all as you grow up and you're looking in the mirror getting ready in the morning...to look at yourself and ask, 'What will I do to change the world today?'" DiRuzza said as he addressed students.
He sprinkled in pop tunes that followed along with the message of being kind to others as students sang along to songs like Katy Perry's "Roar" and One Direction's "What Makes You Beautiful."
"If you just be yourself, you'll be a leader automatically because people will follow along," DiRuzza said.
* Today: Putnam Elementary, Washington Elementary.
* Friday: Marietta Middle School.
* Wednesday: East Fairmont Middle School.
* Sept. 16: Pleasants County Middle School.
* Sept. 17: St. Marys High School.
* Sept. 19: Adelphia Music Hall in Marietta (acoustic concert).
He told stories of his own childhood, making examples of the classic bullies in school and reminded children not to let them be an influence, explaining that negative attitudes cause a chain reaction.
The content of the concert is performed alongside research from StopBullying.gov that shows that the majority of students experience bullying at least once in their lives.
"I learned to always be nice to people, because when you are, they're nice to other people too," said Cody Gray, 7.
Todd Caltrider, who is transitioning into the position of principal at Phillips, said the assembly is not only musical, but is motivational and moralistic.
"I liked that I could sing along to some of the songs, and my favorite was when he did 'Wagon Wheel' because I know all the music to it," said Aubrielle Seevers, 7. "But the songs also made me learn about being nice and not being a bully."
DiRuzza impressed students by pulling out speed tricks on his guitar and hitting high notes in songs he wrote to convey his message, including tracks like "She's Gonna Change the World" and "La La Land."
"I really like that he used a classic guitar, and I couldn't believe he could hit all those really high notes like that," said Hailey Shearon, 10.
The concert encouraged the concept of following your dreams "beyond the normal cliche," as DiRuzza spoke about pursuing goals regardless of what anyone else says.
"No one will believe in you as well as you can believe in yourself," DiRuzza said. "Whatever dream you have, don't let anyone tell you you can't do it."