In fairness to these two ladies and all concerned at Royal West Academy, they are not alone in this problem of bullying that goes on. I was going to let it go , but I realized that if I did, nothing would change over there and it really needed to and it was my responsibility as an adult and Courteney’s grandfather to do so. Bullying is fast becoming and epidemic and it is claiming the lives of our children through violence , or suicide and so I wrote to these ladies to tell them what I thought and how I felt ; what I thought needed to be done and what might help. My granddaughter was an honor role student when she entered that school and would have never considered skipping class and certainly not all day, but in the end that is exactly what she did to escape the pain and humiliation that these girls and later a large number of students decided to put her through, because she was different, because she was poor. She has since left that school and is attending another where she is not be the only Black child in her class, or the only child without a credit card. I talked about this problem in the post titled, ” Revelations of a Broken Heart” . There is some real suffering going on out there and we can no longer pretend that is just is not happening, or that it is not all that bad.
I think that these problems are all to often left to the guidance councilor/coach who is more worried about which parent donated to the teams sweaters and trying not to offend them rather than solving the problem. If these situations are not taken seriously by the principle staff and teachers, why in heaven’s name would the children take the matter seriously. The school brags of its high academic standards and scores and its right to refuse children from attending there based on marks and grade averages, but maybe these types of schools should go back to refusing admission to their schools on the grounds of money and race and all the other little nasty things that they seem to silently support, or turn a blind eye to, until something goes horribly wrong.
The little snobs and bigots of today will become the big ones of tomorrow and the never-ending circle of mistrust, prejudice and bigotry will continue. The children who are humiliated, made to feel less and have to flee because they are different, will pass their experiences on to their children and the war of differences will continue, they will grow up thinking you are the enemy and their prejudice towards you will continue ; so I wrote the principal and vice principal a letter and told them what I thought.
Dear Mrs Reynolds and Ms Margetis
I was so proud when my granddaughter,Courteney was accepted into your school. We all thought that things had changed so much and wow she was getting a break at a different kind of education. It was for us an affirmation of what I taught my children and my children taught their children(that if you just studied, worked hard and applied yourself that anything was possible and that they would indeed succeed). Instead your students and your teachers helped to teach Courteney that there are indeed two types of people the haves and the have not’s, the unspoken prejudice, the silent killer of children’s dreams.
Before going to your school Courteney had never dealt with the prejudices of the world and laughed when I told her that they did indeed exist and that not so long ago she would not have been given a chance to go to that school. The Courteney we gave to you to teach, made friends with everybody no matter what color, how rich or poor you were, or what religion you practiced. Courteney entered your school a proud, confident young lady and is leaving a sad, bullied and demoralized young girl. The young girl that saw all people as equals, now is painfully aware that the world does not see her the same way.
Every time there was talk of Blacks, or being poor the teachers would say isn’t that right Courteney and she felt singled out and different. No one went to her parties and she was not invited to theirs, but she never saw it as a slight and she thought she had made friends, Even that was a cruel joke and they made her the laughing-stock of your school. Those little girls that slept and ate at my house; who were only playing a game, pretending to be her friend, broke my granddaughters heart and totally humiliated her..
I know also that you tried to help her financially when she needed your help and for this I will say thank you, but it wasn’t enough. Courteney was suffering before it came to a head and they bullied her after you knew about it, to the point that she felt her only recourse was to skip school, something up until the time she entered your school she had never done before and was always eager to go to school.
Kids will be kids, but I think you who educate our children have a greater responsibility than just teaching the children academics. My granddaughter now knows what prejudice is and that it goes way beyond Black vs. White, French vs. English, or Protestants vs. Catholics; she now knows that just not having the same amount of money is just as bad to some, as any of the above. Those girls, the school and yourselves should feel ashamed for what has happened. Courteney will not soon forget her experiences and what she has learned in your school at the hands of your students and staff and will almost assuredly pass them on to her children and so the vicious cycle of prejudice will continue for yet another generation.
If you wonder where the hatred comes from when you look in the eyes of a juvenile delinquent you may pass on the street, or see hanging around the metros; you need look no further than what is being taught in your school unofficially. We are non violent family, but if you wonder what drives children to commit violent acts against others in their school; you need look no further then your students, staff and your handling of the situation. If you wonder why children commit suicide because of bullying in school; you need look no further than your students and your staff and ask yourself how this could have happened in your school; in this day and age; in this country, on your watch.
I understand that you have a zero tolerance policy against violence, too bad that this policy did not extend to bullying and prejudice; if it did perhaps my granddaughter’s head would still be held high and she wouldn’t feel like she was the scrapings off of the bottom of someone’s shoes. Courteney is gone from your school, but your problem still remains. How many Courteneys can your school afford and how will you teach your students to be more tolerant of others less fortunate than themselves?
To this end may I suggest that you do one of your field trips down to other schools with children less fortunate than your students.
Maybe you could have a tutoring program where your brightest could help some other children not as gifted, or as fortunate as themselves
What both sides learn now and experience may allow some of the barriers to come down and promote an atmosphere of tolerance that will allow bright gifted children from all walks of life to survive your halls for the full term of their high school education.
Now you can throw this letter in the trash and pretend you never got it, or that I am a crazy old man, or we can all learn something and maybe you can teach your students something with it; I will leave that entirely up to you, my hands are full trying to undo some of the damage that has been done and reverse some of the resentment that has already set it. Good luck with your problem and I wish you all well.