An exhibit that opened Thursday at Mount Eden High School in Hayward uses art to look at the problem of bullying.

The new student show, "Artists are Allies," is an extension of the district's emphasis on addressing bullying, said art teacher Geoff Landreau.

"We thought that, as a fine arts department, we could do a good job of bringing visual images to the theme of anti-bullying," he said.

The exhibit has more than 75 pieces in a variety of media, including ceramics, drawings, paintings, collage, origami, photographs, metalwork and jewelry. The artwork is on display at the school's gallery in Classroom L4 through Feb. 12. The exhibit is open to the public after school until 5 p.m. on Thursdays.

The exhibit is just one of the ways students in visual and performing arts classes are addressing bullying.

On Thursday, Mt. Eden High drama students will stage scenes from "The Laramie Project," a play about the reaction to the 1998 killing of University of Wyoming gay student Matthew Shepard. The 2:30 p.m. performance, also in Classroom L4, is open to the public, but seating is limited.

Performing arts students will be putting on anti-bullying concerts at 7 p.m. April 4 and April 5.

"Because of all the bullying that's going on in the schools, it's become important for us as teachers to talk about it and to bring more attention to what happens to students who are bullied," Landreau said.

"What are some ways we can become allies to eliminate or diminish bullying in schools?"

Mt. Eden High is at 2300 Panama St., off Hesperian Boulevard. For more information, call 510-723-3180.

Newark organization holding essay contest

All Tri-City-area students 18 and younger are invited to enter the annual Newark Optimist Club Essay Contest.

Contest entry is free, said Denise Fullerton, the club's contest chairwoman.

This year's essay topic is "How Dreams Lead to Success." Each essay must be between 700 and 800 words, Fullerton said.

The contest's winner will receive a cash prize of $200, the second-place contestant will be awarded $125, and $75 will go to the student finishing third.

The first-place finisher will advance to the Optimist International's Pacific Central District competition, where the winner will receive a $2,500 college scholarship.

The deadline to apply is Feb. 18. Winners will be announced by Feb. 22. Contest application forms can be found at www.optimist.org. Completed essays can be submitted by emailing promsyrslf@sbcglobal.net.

For details, call 510-793-6074.

Homeroom is a roundup of news from schools in Alameda County.