Big Problem
Saturday afternoon Katie, Mary, and Jenna sat on the floor of Jenna’s room organizing the printouts they made for the first school B.U.L.L.Y. Club meeting. Steven walked in with a big bowl of popcorn.
“Here, Mom said to bring this up,” said Steven setting the bowl down on the floor.
“Thank you!” Said Jenna, as all three girls reached for some at once.
“What are doing?” Asked Steven.
“Getting ready for our first after school B.U.L.L.Y. meeting,” Jenna said with her mouth full.
“Can I come?” Asked Steven.
“No,” said Jenna. “However…” she began as she looked around behind her and reached for a pile of papers. “These are for you,” she said handing them to Steven. “I made extra copies of our pledge, what B.U.L.L.Y. stands for, and things to discuss. Since we can have meetings at school now, you can hold meetings for your friends over the garage.”
“Cool! Thanks Jenna,” Steven said as he jumped up and hurried out of the room. Jenna was sure he was going to ask their mother when he could have a meeting.
“Aaw! You’re such a nice big sister,” said Mary.
Jenna gave her a big popcorn smile and attempted to say, “Thanks!” Although it sounded more like, ‘Hanksh.’
“Lovely Jenna,” replied Mary, as she scrunched up her face looking grossed out.
“I hope thirty copies will be enough,” said Katie as she finished counting.
“I’m sure it will be for a first meeting,” said Jenna. “If not one of us can run to the school library and print out more copies.”
“Oh! I call it! I love using the copy machine,” Said Katie.
“Okay,” laughed Jenna.
“So after we have everyone introduce themselves, what do we talk about?” Asked Mary.
“Boys!” Said Katie.
Both Jenna and Mary threw some popcorn at her at the same time.
“Hey!” Said Katie.
“There will be boys there, you banana!” Said Mary.
“That’s Queen Banana to you,” said Katie.
“Whatever,” laughed Mary.
“I think after the introductions, explaining what B.U.L.L.Y. stands for, reading and having them sign the promise sheet and all, we can maybe ask if anyone wants to share stories of being bullied or something,” suggested Jenna.
“That sounds good,” said Katie.
“Maybe we can talk about some ways to handle bullies, too,” suggested Mary.
“Good idea,” said Jenna.
“We need to make more signs announcing the first meeting I think,” said Mary.
“Good idea,” said Jenna. “Oh, Mr. Washburn is going to make sure they mention it in the morning announcements too.”
“Cool,” said Katie.
“So, big tennis match coming up this week,” said Mary. “Do you think we can actually beat our rivals this year? It didn’t go to well last time.”
“When we are done with those Lions, they are going to be known as the cowardly lions!” Stated Katie confidently.
The girls laughed.
“They have taken first place the last ten years though,” added Jenna.
“That’s why I’m worried,” said Mary.
“Don’t worry. We will end their winning streak once and for all. This is our year,” Said Katie.
“If not, we can always beat them next year,” said Jenna.
Katie tossed a piece of popcorn at Jenna. “I said this year is our year.”
“Okay, okay. This is our year,” said Jenna.
“Never question Queen Banana,” said Katie sternly before all three girls cracked up.
It was a busy couple of weeks coming up for Jenna. She started feeling a bit anxious with all the homework, tests, getting ready for their final tennis match and for their first B.U.L.L.Y. club meeting. It was a lot to deal with but she tried to stay positive and take it one day at a time. She was happy that Mr. Washburn had liked her first draft about bullying. Although she had plenty of corrections and some changes to make for her final draft.
Wednesday, as Jenna closed her locker just before lunch, she found herself face-to-face with Sierra, who happened to be one of Tara’s friends. Jenna immediately tensed up, ready to defend herself.
“Hey…” Sierra said looking uncomfortable herself.
“What do you want?” Said Jenna harshly.
“I… um, is the B.U.L.L.Y. Club meeting today?” Asked Sierra.
“Why? Are you and your group planning on sabotaging it or something?” Asked Jenna trying to sound tough.
“No,” said Sierra. “This is awkward… but, I want to join.”
“You want to join?” Jenna asked, shocked.
“Yeah. Some of us, well… I definitely want to join. I feel bad for going along with Tara and the group, just to be popular and all. I’m out of the group now. If I get anymore detentions or in any more trouble I’m going to be grounded for life and my parents will probably disown me. Not that I’d blame them,” explained Sierra.
“Are you being honest right now? This isn’t some kind of trick?” Asked Jenna skeptically.
“I don’t blame you for doubting me,” said Sierra sadly. “I promise I’m being honest. Since I am out of Tara’s group, I’m going to be a target for her bullying. So, I could use some help… and maybe some new friends.”
“Being a bully does not make you popular or cool, you know,” said Jenna. “Tara is neither and she is not a good friend. I actually was friends with her for a short time in elementary school.”
Sierra seemed surprised Jenna had once been friends with Tara. “I know it’s not cool now. So you know how she will act toward me now that I’m not her friend?”
“Yes,” said Jenna. “I don’t know that we will ever be able to stop her from bullying. I don’t know what her problem is.”
“Well, I do kind of feel bad for her,” said Sierra. “Her parents don’t get along. Her Dad doesn’t pay attention to his kids and her Mom is a control freak. She has two older brothers that are always pushing her around and a younger brother that drives her crazy. There is a lot of yelling in that house every single day! Not that this gives her the right to bully others, of course. I sure wouldn’t want to take her place. Although if I had her family, I would probably try to avoid them as much as possible. It would not make me want to bully others, though. I think she needs to feel in complete control of something and to feel important. I know it’s all messed up. I just can’t be her friend anymore. Actually I was more of a puppet to her than a friend.”
“I know what you mean,” said Jenna, “I never met her family, so I didn’t know she had it rough at home. Like you said that is no excuse to bully others though. I think her family needs some intensive therapy or something.”
“Yeah,” agreed Sierra.
“Listen, if you’re serious about joining the B.U.L.L.Y. Club, it starts next Wednesday after school,” said Jenna.
“Thanks,” said Sierra. “I really appreciate you letting me join. I better get to class. Bye.”
“Bye,” said Jenna.
Jenna headed to the cafeteria. She couldn’t believe that Sierra and possibly some of the others in Tara’s group were going to stop hanging around with Tara. She told her table of friends about the conversation at lunch. They all thought it was good news. Maybe if Tara’s friends started turning on her she might consider changing. Although they all doubted that was truly possible. It would be a miracle if she did.
Friday arrived. The girls were changing in the locker room and getting ready for their final tennis match. They were all hoping to take first place from their rivals. It would be the first time someone did in ten years. It would be quite an accomplishment. There was a lot of nervous and excited energy in the locker room. After their coach gave her power talk and got them all revved up they headed out to the tennis courts. The sun was out but it wasn’t blinding or too hot. That was always a plus. The first players were called forward.
Jenna got to choose which side of the court she wanted. Which meant her rival got to serve. The game started. Jenna was in the zone. Before she knew it the score was 30-40. Jenna was ahead. If she won the next point she would win this game. The ball kept going back and forth. Finally her opponent missed. Jenna won the first game. She shook hands with her rival who scowled at her. Jenna grabbed a towel and her water and sat down. Mary came skipping over, she won her first game too. Katie’s game was at a tie. “Forty all, deuce!” They kept playing. Finally Katie won her game. A few of their team members lost but it seemed like their team was winning more games than their rivals. It was exciting and intense.
When it was all over the Lions’ winning streak had ended. Jenna’s team won. They cheered and jumped up and down. There was laughing and crying. Happy tears of course. Jenna’s hand hurt from all the high-fives! She didn’t care though because she was so excited. The whole team went to a pizza place to celebrate. A lot of their families went, too. It was a fun night. Jenna was asleep as soon as her head touched her pillow.
The weekend flew by. Before the girls knew it, Wednesday arrived. Their very first B.U.L.L.Y. Club meeting at school. Jenna was a little relieved when she heard Tara had gotten herself suspended for three days. She had been worried that Tara would try to ruin her first club meeting somehow.
When the final bell rang, the girls met at their lockers. Mary had the folder with all the hand-outs for everyone. They got to the classroom first. Mr. Washburn wasn’t even there yet. Mira walked in a minute later and helped them pass out papers. More students started coming in asking if this was the right room for the B.U.L.L.Y. Club. Mr. Washburn walked in five minutes later.
“Welcome B.U.L.L.Y. Club members,” he said as he put some folders on his desk and sat down. Jenna handed him some of the print outs. “Very nice turn out, Jenna.”
“Yeah, I counted 22, not bad,” said Jenna.
“Well I am going to correct some papers, so they are all yours,” said Mr. Washburn. “If you need my help though, just say the word.”
“Thank you,” said Jenna.
Jenna welcomed everyone to the B.U.L.L.Y. Club and made sure everyone had the hand-outs. She had everyone introduce themselves. Then she explained what B.U.L.L.Y. stood for which she pointed out was on page one of their handouts in case they forgot. Then Katie read the promise sheet out loud.
“As Jenna mentioned before, anyone can join. You just have to promise to do the following. Do you all promise to?
1. Never put people down.
2. Always stand up for yourself and others.
3. If someone is being bullied band spectators together around the victim if possible. Or:
4. Have someone get an adult.
5. Tell your parents, teachers, principal, etc. about a bully that does harm.
6. Let bad bullies know that the world will not put up with their nonsense.
7. Try to understand what a bad bully is going through if possible.
8. See if you can help bad bullies, and get them to become good B.U.L.L.Y.’s like us.”
“I promise!” They all said in unison.
“Awesome!” Said Jenna. “Raise your hand if you signed the anti-bullying mural in the entry way after the assembly.” Every hand went up.
Jenna picked up a beach ball globe Mr. Washburn kept by his desk. “I recently read online that approximately 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students. American schools alone have around 2.1 million bullies and 2.7 million victims. This is a huge problem all around the world.”
Jenna talked about the different kinds of bullying and all three girls suggested ways to stop a bully. Then she asked if anyone wanted to talk about their experience with a bully. Jenna talked a bit about her experiences first. Then a few other people opened up and talked about some bullying they have experienced. Mary and Katie each talked about a time when they were each bullied.
The room was quiet again. “Anyone else?” Asked Jenna looking around the room.
Mira raised her hand. Jenna smiled. “Mira,” she said.
“I don’t want to talk about a time I was bullied, but I wanted to read something I wrote recently if that’s okay?” asked Mira.
“Yes, that’s fine,” said Jenna.
Mira cleared her voice and read a piece from her journal.
“It’s called ‘Dear Bully’, by me.
Why do you have to be so bad?
Always making others sad.
With each chance you call me a name
Forcing me to take your shame
You want to hurt me physically
Smiling at me so wickedly
How can you think you’re so cool?
You’re just a menace to our school
You’re not just hurting me.
You’re hurting yourself too, can’t you see?
I won’t let you get to me.
So maybe you will finally let me be.”
Everyone clapped. “That was really good Mira,” Jenna said.
“Thank you,” said Mira as her cheeks flushed with embarrassment.
Sierra raised her hand and Jenna nodded at her.
“Hey. I know some of you know me. Until a few days ago, I am ashamed to admit I was a bully. I was bullied and teased in elementary school, so I know how awful it feels. That makes it even worse to admit that I became a bully. It just seemed the way to become popular was to be mean. I wanted so badly to be friends with Tara and the others. If I was, I would be popular and never bullied and teased again. When we started getting in trouble, getting detention, and my parents were hopping mad at me. I finally started to realize that what I was doing was not cool or being popular. Those girls were not true friends. I think I always knew it but I didn’t want to think about it. Anyway, I can’t tell you how sorry I am. I especially want to sincerely apologize to some people in this room. I’m really sorry Jenna, Mira, Colby, Cameron, Laura, Betsy, Maia, and Tammy. I was so wrong and I’m very ashamed. I hope you can all forgive me one day.” Sierra said with tears in her eyes.
Cameron started clapping in the back of the room and then everyone else joined him.
“That was very brave and nice of you Sierra,” said Jenna. “That would be a hard thing to admit. You have my forgiveness and I’m happy to have you in the B.U.L.L.Y. Club.”
A few others let Sierra know they forgave her too which brought more tears to her eyes.
“It looks like we are just about out of time,” said Jenna. “Thank you all for coming. You are all welcome to make suggestions anytime you want. We want to make our school a bully free place. Let’s all thank Mr. Washburn for helping make this possible.”
Everyone said thank you to Mr. Washburn. Then they started to slowly stream out of the room.
“Good job girls,” said Mr. Washburn. “I think your club is going to really make a difference.”
All three girls said thank you at once.
Jenna turned to talk to Mira but she had already left.
“Well we better get going, my Mom’s probably out there waiting for us,” said Jenna to Mary and Katie.
“Yeah, I have to get home and study for a test tomorrow,” said Mary.
“See you tomorrow, girls,” said Mr. Washburn.
“Bye,” they each said before leaving the room.

Keep Reading

Chapter 12

The End Of The School Year

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