Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Desmond Middle School student Leslie Moreno, left, who is joined by her friend Lucero, shares a story about herself being bullied during an anti-bullying rally last week.
The students of Jack G. Desmond Middle School were called out of class, and assembled into the gymnasium. They had been gathered Friday to address and discuss a growing problem in American schools.
“So what is bullying, students?” Jaimee Ashburn, one of Desmond’s counselors asked. “It’s repeated threatening, name-calling, and/or avoiding students, and pitting them against one another.”
Following Ashburn’s opening speech, games were played by the students, and videos on bullying were played. Speeches on the subject were also given, including one by student and bullying victim Leslie Moreno, who became the victim of name-calling early on in her childhood.
“When I was in the second grade, I was pushed down to the floor, and told these things, and they have haunted ever since. And for a very long time, I believed they were true,” Moreno said. “They even pushed me to consider ending my life.”
Moreno struggled, but continued her speech.
“Instead of grasping onto it, and going into that dark hole, I took these words, and I did not let them defeat me,” said Moreno. “My brother once told me, how we are all just like seeds ... and we are rained on, slowly being covered more, and more, but then we start to grow these roots, and slowly, we begin to see this light — the beautiful rays of the sun.”
Another speech, given by Teach One to Lead One’s Madera County director Theresa Farmer, echoed Moreno’s words, and urged students to remember their own worth.
“You have to recognize and celebrate the fact that you are a valuable person,” Farmer said. “How you perceive yourself becomes the reality of you.”