News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 28, 2012

READERS’ FORUM: July 28, 2012


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Trying to make a difference on bullying


My name is Mercedes McCall. I am 14, and I am looking forward to my freshman year at West Vigo High School. Before I enter high school, I want to share with you a project I started while I was a student at West Vigo Middle School. The Vigo County School Corp. has an anti-bullying program called HERO (Helping Everyone Respect Others). You may have seen the billboards around town. I wanted to add a student-led anti-bullying piece to it, so I started HEROES in Action at my school.

First of all, you might find it interesting that I have not only been bullied, but I have also been the bully. I used bullying as a self-defense, and because it made me feel more confident about myself. It didn’t make me feel happy about myself inside, though. After years of doing that, I decided to stop bullying and speak out against the problem.  

The first thing I did was share this idea with my teacher, Mrs. Melanie Beaver. She encouraged me to meet with some of my other classmates to form the group. Together, we invited Miss Tante Robinson of Girls of Excellence and rapper LG Wise to speak to all seventh-graders about bullying. The next thing we did was invite students to try out for parts in a Reader’s Theater performance of the book called “ONE” by Kathryn Otoshi.

I presented a grant proposal for this project to Wabash Valley Community Foundation, and the idea was funded. I wanted to perform for younger students, because I think a lot of bullying starts in elementary school. We traveled in a school bus to the three elementary schools that feed in to West Vigo Middle School. Those schools are Sugar Creek Consolidated, Fayette Elementary, and West Vigo Elementary.

We also performed at the Vikes & Tykes Childcare Center at West Vigo High School. I think the young kids really understood our message about bullying. The grant paid for our transportation, performance props, and a copy of the picture book for each school’s library where we visited.

I would like to thank the Wabash Valley Community Foundation for supporting my project idea. I also want to thank the elementary principals for allowing us to visit their schools: Mrs. Marrs, Mrs. Bonomo, and Mrs. Pfrank.

At this year’s Vigo County Fair, I was happy to see seven poster projects on the topic of bullying awareness. One of them received Grand Champion. That tells me that other people are taking a stand against bullying, too.

Now that I am going on to high school at West Vigo, I want to continue speaking out against bullying. I hope to form a group of students from all the VCSC high schools, because I think students who meet with each other for a good cause can help prevent bullying back at their schools. I started a Twitter account, @heroesinaction, to have a place to share ideas and encouragement on the topic of bullying.

I want to end this letter by thanking Mr. Tanoos, the superintendent of my school corporation, for believing in me. One time when he was in my school, my principal introduced me to him and told him about my anti-bullying project. Mr. Tanoos shook my hand and congratulated me for speaking up.  

I know what it feels like to be bullied, and I know what it feels like to be a bully. If everyone takes a stand with me, then we can reach out to more people about the dangers of bullying.

I am also grateful for the encouragement from Mrs. Eva Kor. I visited her CANDLES Museum a few times to hear her speak, and she spoke at my school. Like me, she is one person trying to make a difference.

— Mercedes McCall

West Terre Haute