Thursday, February 3, 2011

Her Name was Leena. The story of a victim of bullying in school.


I don’t understand why kids are so cruel! I mean, I always minded my own business. I made good grades and never bothered anyone.
Were these kids jealous because I made better grades than they did? I’m not sure.
I do know that they seemed to get a big kick out of making fun of my clothes and shoes. I couldn’t help it if my mother wasn’t able to buy me trendy clothes or expensive shoes. My father died when I was three years old. My mother never remarried.
You know, even though she had to shop for me at discount stores, I always had new clothes and shoes to start out every school year and I was always appreciated my mom.
I remember I always hated to ride the bus! I remember there was always an empty seat in the middle of the bus, so I was forced to have to take that seat because it was the only one available. Oh the cruelty I would endure, day in and day out, both on the way to and from school. I remember these girls would pull my hair and there was a couple of incidences where one of the football jocks would stand up and deliberately fall on me and then blame me for tripping them! How could I have possibly “tripped” him? I was sitting in my seat!
Well, after a few times of that happening, the bus driver put a stop to it and he made sure I had a seat at the very front of the bus. Needless to say, I was very grateful for that. Nobody dared to harass me up front. I sat right behind the bus driver’s seat.

I remember how much I hated to eat lunch in the school cafeteria. Sometimes there were no empty tables to sit at, (I usually ate lunch by myself. I didn’t have any friends to save me a seat).
Well, when there was a vacant seat, (it was usually in the middle of a bunch of kids), as much as I hated it, I would attempted to take one of those seats because there was no where else to sit, but the kids always told me they were “saving” the seat for someone. Of course I knew that wasn’t true. As I walked away, I heard those kids snickering and sometimes I would feel a piece of food being thrown at me.

I remember asking my teacher, the one I had before lunch, if I could sit in her room and eat my lunch. She had the same lunch period as I did, so there was no class in that room at my lunch period. I told her that I wanted to do my homework for her class while I ate. Mrs. White was very nice and she told me it was fine, but she knew the real reason why I wanted to eat lunch in her room. She was a very sweet woman. Sometimes I don’t know what I would have done without Mrs. White’s help.
I was so happy when I only and a month and a half of school left before graduation! Yes, I was happy that I was no longer going to have to endure the daily torture that I had been going through and I was thrilled about it! I was most certainly looking forward to graduation day; the day I was going to surprise everyone! Yes, it was going to be a day that nobody would ever forget! A day when all those who tortured me would pay for what they did to me!
Graduation day came! I made sure not to forget my “special” item.
I was so glad that my name began with an A. That made it possible for me to receive my diploma and I am happy to say that I also received a scholarship as well!

When my name was called, I walked up to the podium. I heard my mom and my relatives clap, along with the teachers and administrative staff, but not one of the students clapped. It didn’t matter to me though. I knew that nobody else was going to clap that day for the other students either, not after my plan was carried out.
I remember that I was supposed to give an acceptance speech about receiving my scholarship. I made a very short speech, then I partially unzipped my graduation robe and reached in my shirt pocket to pull out my “special” item. Needless to say, I got some very strange looks from my “fellow students, not to mention the audience.
The principle and a councilor walked up to me as I started to unfold the item in my hand.
They sat back down.
I remember looking into the faces of my torturers. They were looking at me, snickering.
I cleared my throat and started to talk about my school life. I talked about the cruelty and humiliation that I suffered at the hands of my “fellow” students. I then proceeded to name each student who hurt me, who made of me and laughed at me.
You would not believe the looks on all of the students’ faces, not to mention the ones I named and not to mention the look of shock on the audience’s and faculties faces!
I have to say, the look of shock and humiliation on the faces of those who tortured me was priceless!
You know at the same time, I felt myself almost feeling sorry for them.
The principle started to walk up to the podium in an attempt to stop me from continuing to read off the names on my list. I noticed that Mrs. White and one of the councilors’ stood directly in front of him. Needless to say, he sat back down in his seat. I just smiled and kept on reading. The students, well, they just sunk down in their seats.
I finally finished reading my list and promptly walked off the stage. I met my mother behind the big black curtains that were behind the stage.
I listened behind there as the Graduation ceremony continued. I noticed as the students’ names were called, I didn’t hear the enthusiasm from the audience or the other students that usually happens at Graduations.
I had a pretty good view of the stage and the stairs that led to the floor. I watched as each and every student descended those stairs after accepting their diplomas. Not one of those students were smiling; I was smiling though.
That was 15 years ago. I decided that when I came home from graduating from college, I was going to apply to the school board in an attempt to obtain a position at the very same school where I endured so much abuse. I am now a teacher there. I have been there now for about 10 years.

The story of how Leena Ann Maples humiliated the Graduating class of 1995 is still circulating the halls; not as much as it used to, but it still finds itself on the lips of students, as well as the faculty members.
I am happy to report that after that historic graduation day, the very next school year, the school board enacted a policy that if anybody bullied anybody else for anything and I mean anything, then the bully or bullies were to write a term paper on why they felt it necessary to hurt and humiliate a fellow student and then they had to read it in front of the entire school.
I heard that while I was away at college, a no bullying policy was enacted. I understand that there were only two incidences of bullying, generating two term papers written by two bullies during the entire four years while I was gone.
During my 10 years of teaching at my old school, there has been only one incidence of bullying, which I just happen to see and needless to say, I stopped it immediately. I remember that incident happened my very first year of teaching. I still have that term paper and now that bully, well, he is a teacher now and he and I both advocate against bullying in school.

While this story is fiction, sadly, bullying still continues in our schools. I believe that there should be educational programs set up in each and every school to raise awareness of this age old problem. I also believe that the school boards all over this country should enact strict policies against bullying as well. I think it’s sad that such laws should even have to be made because students should not be bullying each other, but as long as this problem exist, well, something has to be done.
I believe that each and every student has the right to be happy during their school experience and each student has the right to be able to attend school in peace.
Melody Dempsey
Author of The Forest Portal