Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Pen is Mightier than the Sword (04/08/10)
TITLE: Dying to be Heard
By Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom
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One day, I logged on to face book and found a page called, ”Riley Ronnikers Must Die.” I knew I should have ignored it, but I couldn’t help myself. The page had postings from people calling me a freak, or telling stories about embarrassing moments. Secrets that I thought were safe were right next to unbelievable lies. There was even a section about horrible and painful ways for me to die.
I’m sure as you read this you are thinking this is a bizarre college admission essay. This crazy girl needs to be bragging about her 97.6 average, or her ranking in the 10th percentile on her SATs. Wouldn’t it be more impressive if we knew she was a varsity swimmer, ran track, and performed in the school play?
All of those statements above are true, but that’s not what I will remember when I look back on my teen years. Instead, I’ll picture how my former best friend took a photo of me in the locker room on her cell phone. Then she forwarded it to everyone on her call list. Someone thought it would be hilarious to print posters of the degrading picture and post it on every pole in town. Once, at a swim team sleepover, the girls wrote vile names on my forehead in permanent marker while I was asleep.
I’ll remember begging Mom not to tell the principal what happened because it would only make things worse. She didn’t believe me. Things got so much worse. Text messages were sent several times a day telling everyone atrocities I’d committed. Many teachers saw the kids laughing and reading the messages aloud; most just looked the other way.
My mom went to the school board and told them everything that had been done to me. Their answer was, “Tell Riley, sticks and stones may break her bones, but words will never hurt her.” That was their brilliant solution, to tell me to toughen up.
After months of torture, I finally decided I couldn’t take it anymore. Hell couldn’t be as bad as the life I was living. I wanted my mom to know I loved her and it wasn’t her fault. She cried as much as I did. I heard her telling a friend that she was the worst mom ever, because she couldn’t keep her daughter safe.
I believed the only solution was to kill myself. Other than my mom, no one would care or even notice. But I wanted to make sure Mom didn’t blame herself; so I wrote a letter telling her what a great mom she really is and how much I love her. I really believed her life would be easier without me in it.
After I had written the letter, I wanted to make sure someone found it before Mom came home from work and found my cold body. I put it in the mailbox of the only teacher who had ever tried to help me. I knew she would find it in the morning. I thought that would be plenty of time for my teacher to call the police before Mom came home from her night shift to find me dead from an overdose.
Thank God, the teacher had a late meeting that day. She found my letter and called 911 immediately. The paramedics made it to my house just in time. I started going to therapy; legal action was taken against 3 of the girls that were cyber-bullying me.
I almost had to die before anyone would listen. I wasn’t the only one who was being bullied. The investigation found other kids who were contemplating suicide, too. We started a support group and together we learned how to heal.
I hope you will find me worthy to be a student here. I want to become a teacher. I promise I won’t look the other way when one of my students is being bullied. I will be that teacher who might save someone’s life some day. Please give me the chance- not just for me- but for all of my future students. I will make a difference in the world.
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