Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bullied to Death

I recently saw a man by the name of John Halligan speak at a middle school assembly. When I was sent to the auditorium as a chaperone, little did I know that his story would sit so heavily on my heart. He spoke about bullying and how his son, Ryan, was bullied so badly that he committed suicide at the age of thirteen. The beginning of the speech began with the introduction of his son through a video montage of his life put to the tune of Elton John’s “Last Song.” As a mother of three boys, one of whom is named Ryan, it hit a nerve and I was unable to control the tears pouring down my cheeks. I was not the only one and in fact, a few teachers left because it was so difficult to watch. At first, I was thinking that it was going to be too upsetting and overwhelming for the students in the auditorium. As he spoke however, my thoughts changed. They need to hear this, and many of them need something eye opening to really grasp the concept that there can be serious consequences to their words and actions. Quite often, people act or speak before they think it through. For whatever reason, however, it seems to happen much more frequently during the middle school years.
He spoke about how he handled the situation when his son came to him and told him that he was being bullied. And, as a parent, I was sitting there thinking that’s what I would have done. He and his wife handled it the way I would imagine myself and my husband handling it if it were one of our sons. That disturbed me. He said hind sight is twenty-twenty and I certainly learned from his hind sight.
What I liked most about his talk were these points:
The parents should meet with the bully and his or her parents to discuss the situation. I was saddened and intrigued that the schools and the laws across the states are not handling bullying properly and the rules and laws need some serious adjustments, which Mr. Halligan has been working towards. The one thing that I loved and I hoped every child took away from his speech was that the bystanders are just as much to blame as the bully. They have more power than they think. I imagine that most kids who watch other children being bullied are afraid that if they say something, then the bully will turn on them. While bullying has always been an unfortunate part of society, it seems that in our modern society it has become far more prevalent. Perhaps this is because today, people can cower behind a computer or a cell phone text to carry out their mission. Mr. Halligan states on his web site, “I believe bullying through technology has the effect of accelerating and amplifying the hurt to levels that will probably result in a rise in teen suicide rates. Recent statistics indicate that indeed teen suicide is on the rise again after many years of declining rates.”  I have not been able to stop thinking about this story since I heard Mr. Halligan speak. I can only hope that many of the students who saw him with me feel the same way.


Chaperone  (noun) - someone who accompanies and supervises a group, especially of young people, usually when in public places.

Bullying (verb) - intimidate; domineer

Disturbed (verb) - to perplex; trouble

Hind Sight (noun) - recognition of the realities, possibilities, or requirements of a situation, event, decision etc., after its occurrence.

Intrigue (verb) - to arouse the curiosity or interest of by unusual, new, or otherwise fascinating or compelling qualities

Accelerating (verb) - to cause faster or greater activity, development, progress, advancement.

Amplifying (verb) - to make larger, greater, or stronger; enlarge; extend

Fill in the blank:

1. The teachers will  ________ the dance.
2. The older students were _______ the younger child.
3. The movie "Taken," ______ me.
4. Looking back, I should have seen the signs, _____ is twenty-twenty.
5. I used bugs in the lesson to _____ the students.
6. I felt the car _____ as we drove off the ramp onto the highway.
7. The girls screams were _______ as the time came closer for Justin Beber to step on stage.

Grammar Point:

I have used many verbs in the past tense. Can you list all of them?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Spoonful of Sugar

Growing up, Mary Poppins was by far my favorite movie. There was something so fun about this realistic, yet very magical nanny. I adored, and still do, the music and the dancing in the scenes. I loved the idea of being able to clean up a room by simply snapping a finger. It was amazing to imagine clothes and toys dancing merrily back into their properly assigned drawers and boxes. The movie, which derived from the collection of books authored by P.L. Travers, seems to make all of the chores children normally despise doing, rather enjoyable.  Years ago, when I heard the movie was coming to Broadway, I wanted to go. However, raising three young children, working part-time and fulfilling a master's degree have made finding the time to go somewhat of an issue. I was finally able to go this past weekend, thanks to my sister and her fiancĂ© (they just got engaged Friday night). They bought us tickets as a Christmas present this year. Since we received the gift, I have been so excited to see the show and spend the afternoon in the city with my husband. As luck would have it, my husband woke up with strep throat and a 102.6 fever on Sunday morning and was unable to go. I was bummed, although fortunate enough to get my mother to take his place. The show was amazing. I highly recommend seeing it. It was just as magical as the movie and entailed more special effects than any other show I have seen on Broadway. It was fun, and like the TV commercial says, rather than making you feel like you are at a kid's show, the entertainers make you feel like a kid at the show. It was also a great day with my mother. Unfortunately we don't live very close to each other and it turned out to be an unexpected, perfect and rare opportunity to spend some quality time together.


Realistic (adjective) - resembles real life
Magical (adjective) - produced by or as if by magic
Fiancé (noun) - a person engaged to be married
Engaged (adjective) - pledged to be married
Fortunate (adjective) - receiving good from uncertain or unexpected sources; lucky
Chores (noun) - a small or routine task
Bummed (adjective) - disappointed
Rare (adjective) - occurring far apart in time; unusual; uncommon
Entailed (verb) - to cause or involve by necessity or as a consequence

Fill in the Blank
  1. The characters in the painting were _________.
  2. The Disney vacation was _________.
  3. Her __________ proposed to her on bended knee.
  4. The __________ couple celebrated over dinner.
  5. She was _________ it did not rain for her outdoor party.
  6. The children complained about doing ________ around the house.
  7. He was _________ she was not able to attend the party.
  8. Meeting the President was a ______ opportunity.
  9. The job _______ a lot of travelling.
Grammar Point

This blog is written primarily in the past tense. It also involves a magical element. Can you write about your own personal magical story using the past tense?