Written by Dina Arrazaghi

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Dedicated to every boy or girl and every other human soul who has been exposed to any kind of shape or form of bullying though out the journey of their lives

"Beyourself, Stand tall & put your hands together to make strong fists, and break the wall."
-Dina Arrazaghi

"They tear you apeart, they get in your head, they shatter your heart, they make you feel dead. They somehow get deep, way into your mind, secrets they ~on't keep, and more they will find. They share them with friends, so people can hear, your rumor is out, and so is your fear. They ruin it all, your life they could end, too strong and too tall, for you to defend. They punch and they kick, their words oh so strong, they are just so sick, they are just so wrong. They do have a lot, and they are really smart, But they don't have one thing, and that's a good heart."
-Unknown

This poem is dedicated to Amanda Todd and everyone else who has been exposed to a massive magnitude of bullying. May all thier souls rest in peace.

 

Max Ringwood is a 14 year old boy in grade 9; he has dark brown hair, brown eyes, and broad shoulders, is 5'6, and overall has a good body build. Ever since he was a kid he had a dream, a dream to become a singer in his own band, to sell a billion COs, and to prove the people who doubted him, wrong. But growing up in a family where no one really cared about his needs or his dreams he had to do it alone. His mom was always at work, never having any time to cook, clean or talk to him. Max was an only child, the baby sister his mother was supposed to have died during the pregnancy just a year ago; he can tell that his mom is still devastated about her death.

His dad and mom split up 2 years ago and ever since then max had never seen his dad. His dad was a very angry man, he didn't like socializing with anyone or going out and he didn't even bother talking to max when he was around any way so it didn't seem like much of a difference to max whether he was home or not. Other than trouble at home, max has even worst trouble at school. Since it's his first year in High school, max knows it's not going to be easy fitting in. Max had always had trouble with bullies in school, teasing him about how he wants to be a singer and how he has no interest in sports. So he is hoping that in high school maybe he'll find someone just like him and who will accept him for who he is.

'B-RING!! B-RING!!! B-RING!!!'

As I reach to press the button on my alarm clock to make it shut off, my hand misses the button and accidentally pushes it off my dresser. It was 7:00 am and the sun was shining, it's the first day of high school. "Ugh, I can't wait to go to school!" I say sarcastically. I take a quick shower and brush my teeth, when I finished washing up I threw on a pair of old jeans and slipped on a t-shirt I bought the other day, it was blue and had a little symbol of an eagle on the top right corner. I race downstairs hoping to find my mom awake and making breakfast, but as always I'm disappointed to find that no one is awake and the kitchen is mess. All the dishes are in the sink, the floor looks like it hasn't been swept or mopped in months and the stove top is stained with cooking grease that looks to be a year old. "I can't believe mom isn't awake, it's the first day of school and it's already started out bad" I say angrily. I grab an apple and head outside to wait for the bus.

As I munch on my apple in my hand its already 8:15, I hear the loud rumbles of a car coming and I realize it's the school bus. I stand solidly waiting for the bus to arrive at my stop and I throw the rest of the apple in the bush behind me. It finally arrives, as the bus doors open I see the bus driver, a women who likes she is in her late 40s; she had frizzy red hair that was in a messy braid. I step into the bus with belated confidence and walk down the aisle to find a seat. I am followed by several eyes as I walk the aisle, I hear whispers and soft giggles as I pass down each seat. I walk towards the last isolated seat at the back of the bus and I decide to seat there.

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The bus finally stops at the last stop and three 12th graders enter the bus with loud laughter, they seemed confident based on how loud they were but why wouldn't they be? They are the eldest which means they look down on the younger grades and they see them as losers. One of the boys had black hair and sharp green eyes; he wore a sweatshirt and blue American eagle jeans with a pair of Nike shoes that looked worn out. The boy on the left had long dark brown hair, Hazel eyes, and was wearing a simple outfit, a white t-shirt, an old pair of ripped up jeans and a pair of black converse with the laces un-tied. The last boy was in between them both, he had short blond hair, diamond blue eyes, wore pants that looked 2 sizes too big, wore a t-shirt with weird graffiti lettering that made out 'LOBOWUS' , and was wearing sneakers by addidas. The boys were tall, taller than me and all of them looked like what a girl would want muscular, good looking and athletic.

They made their way out to the back seat where I was sitting, they all came right towards me and looked me right in the eyes. "What the hake!" one of them shouted, "What's this pipsqueak doing sitting in my seatl?" the blonde one screamed questioningly. "It's the first day of school, how are these seats?" I said looking puzzled. I could hear loud gasps coming throughout the bus, as if I broke a rule or something by even questioning them. "Oh, I see what we got here ...Mark get him out of here" He says as he gestures at me with his hand. Before I could say anything I was grabbed by my collar and put on another seat with some boy who looked about my age. The boy 'Mark' looked at me before he left to his seat and said "never speak to us again loser." By the looks on people's faces who witnessed the whole thing I can tell I didn't get off to a good start. "You got a lot of guts" the boy beside me said, I turned around to look at him and said "why?, just because their older than us it doesn't mean they can push people around." "Techrucallv they can do as they please, they're 12th graders, they can walk over us and we aren't allowed to complain" the boy said as he had a worried look on his face. "Yeah, well I think that should change." I said confidently. The boy looked at me surprised but then a small smirk appeared on his face. "We didn't have a proper introduction, my name is Will, Will Cunnings, and you?" he said. "My names Max, Max Ringwood." I said with a smile on my face. And from that moment on I knew that will and I would become good friends.

We arrive at school and everyone exited the bus as fast as they can, as Will and I were heading out, the 12th graders pushed their way in front of us and as they got out of the bus they gave me a dirty look. That last look they gave made me certain that now I have become a target.

Will and I enter school with the rest of the crowd, everyone was searching for their classes. I knew I had English for my first class so I said my goodbyes to will, who had Math as his first class. After 10 minutes of running from floor to floor, the hallways were already empty but I finally managed to find my class and I made my way in. As I walked in I felt like I was the only new student because I was late, everyone was already seated and got comfortable. The teacher stopped talking and looked at me, along with the whole class turning their heads and facing in my direction. The teacher was slim and tall, she had her hair sandy brown hair in a perfect bun, she looked like she was SOyears old and her cheap makeup didn't do a good job covering the wrinkles on her face either. "You're late on your first day, Mr. ...Mr. .." She looks at her class list and finally says "Mr. Ringwood." "Um, yeah sorry I was having trouble finding the class." I said sincerely. "No excuses, just take a seat please" she said. I walk through the desks as the teacher continues talking, "Since Mr. Ringwood was late, I will repeat my introduction." the teacher said. "Hello class, my name is Mrs. Hopkins and I will be your English teacher this year. I would like to welcome all the new comers and the old." she said with a fake un-convincing smile.

I get cold stares from a few people in the back of the class, I find a seat in the corner and I decide to seat there for now. The classroom was typical, it had cheesy posters stuck up on the walls, the chalk board had the date written neatly on the top left corner and all the desks were in straight rows. The classroom smelt like a fresh flower garden, the room was crystal clean, not even a speck of dust was to be seen. The teacher's desk was placed near the front and on the left side ofthe class where she can see everyone clearly. I looked around At the students in the class, they all look like that haven't slept in days based on the dark circles most of them had under their eyes and almost all of them had blank expressions on their faces .. .looks like I'm not the only one who doesn't want to be here.

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We arrive at school and everyone exited the bus as fast as they can, as Will and I were heading out, the 12th graders pushed their way in front of us and as they got out of the bus they gave me a dirty look. That last look they gave made me certain that now I have become a target.

Will and I enter school with the rest of the crowd, everyone was searching for their classes. I knew I had English for my first class so I said my goodbyes to will, who had Math as his first class. After 10 minutes of running from floor to floor, the hallways were already empty but I finally managed to find my class and I made my way in. As I walked in I felt like I was the only new student because I was late, everyone was already seated and got comfortable. The teacher stopped talking and looked at me, along with the whole class turning their heads and facing in my direction. The teacher was slim and tall, she had her hair sandy brown hair in a perfect bun, she looked like she was 50 years old and her cheap makeup didn't do a good job covering the wrinkles on her face either. "You're late on your first day, Mr ....Mr ..." She looks at her class list and finally says "Mr. Ringwood." "Um, yeah sorry I was having trouble finding the class." I said sincerely. "No excuses, just take a seat please" she said. I walk through the desks as the teacher continues talking, "Since Mr. Ringwood was late, I will repeat my introduction." the teacher said. "Hello class, my name is Mrs. Hopkins and I will be your English teacher this year. I would like to welcome all the new comers and the old." she said with a fake un-convincing smile.

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I get cold stares from a few people in the back of the class, I find a seat in the corner and I decide to seat there for now. The classroom was typical, it had cheesy posters stuck up on the walls, the chalk board had the date written neatly on the top left corner and all the desks were in straight rows. The classroom smelt like a fresh flower garden, the room was crystal clean, not even a speck of dust was to be seen. The teacher's desk was placed near the front and on the left side of the class where she can see everyone clearly. I looked around At the students in the class, they all look like that haven't slept in days based on the dark circles most of them had under their eyes and almost all of them had blank expressions on their faces .. .looks like I'm not the only one who doesn't want to be here.

A couple of days went by until I got used to the system of high school, but then on the third day of school, that's when it all started. It was P.E, I entered the boy's locker room and of course I got the evil stares, I was used to it by now so I just ignored the stares and started to change. I saw the blonde guy from my bus and the rest of his group but this time there were more 12th graders, thankfully I ran out ofthe locker room into the gym before they could approach me. The P.Eteacher was tough looking and had a good build, he had a clean short army haircut, an~ he wore a tight white shirt which allowed you to his 6 pack clearly. He blew his whistle and shouted "Everyone 10 laps around the gym now! I had no interest in sports, but I worked out when I had the time too. We played basketball in P.E and as always, I sucked. I could hear the guys snickering and whispering behind me every time I missed a shot or got the ball taken away from me. I tried to pretend I couldn't hear anything because I could care less what a bunch of 12th graders thought of me.

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After class, all the guys ran into the locker room before me, and when I got in there I couldn't find anyone. I looked around the lockers and under the benches but there still no sight of anybody. Then as I was heading to my locker I was pulled from the back and hollered to the locker room floor, next thing I knew I was surrounded by a bunch of older grade guys while the 9th graders were just hiding and laughing at the back, not wanting to help me. I was looking up at all ofthem and then the blonde guy from my bus spoke "Hey pipsqueak! Remember me? Ha! My names Zach" his friends started laughing. "You sucked out there! I hope you don't tryout for the basketball team! , you're not going to make it for sure!" he said while laughing. I stood up confidently and said "Mv passion isn't sports, its music. I like to sing and I play guitar." There was a short silence when I said that then a burst of laughter from everyone in the locker room. At one point I felt ashamed and embarrassed but I just decided to walk away. But as I walked away I was pulled from my arm by Zach, I turned around and he was right in my face. "You're not a man! Men are supposed to be athletic and strong! Not sing hahahaha!" he screamed in my face as his friends continued laughing with him. IINot necessarily, men can sing too, just like girls can play sports too, and I am strong." I replied.'! wasn't trying to show off or anything but I wanted to prove him wrong. I had to admit I am pretty muscular, and I don't even play sports, but I do workout when I can and that pays off. Zach looked surprised again that I answered him back, but I didn't care because I wanted him to know that he can't just pick on people whenever he felt like it. "So that's how it's going to be huh? Fine then, but you don't know what you've gotten yourself into freak" he yelled angrily at me. He pushed me into the lockers behind me as he left with the rest of his friends.

After my last period 'math' the last bell rang, everyone rushed out the doors, including me but as I was going outside I was surprised to find my mom's car in front ofthe school. I was looking at it again to make sure, because I couldn't believe it. I walked slowly towards it and I saw my mom waving her hand at me through the window, a big smile grew on my face as I opened the door. I took a sit in the front beside my mom, "Mom! What are you doing here?" I said looking surprised. "Well, I have been thinking and I just don't think I have been being a good mother to you Maxi" she said as she was looking at me with sincerity in her eyes. I was shocked, I was stunned, I was ... suspicious. Why would my mom just randomly open her mind up just like that? But I let that question go after she took me out to my favourite places. And I defiantly stopped asking questions about my mom's sudden change of heart after she bought me a brand new guitar. It was a guitar I have wanted since forever, and I didn't even think my mom was listening when I told her about how much I wanted it last year, but I guess she was.

The next school day Will and I were going to hang out after school, school finished at 3:30pm and Will told me about a good diner near the school called 'Slims' we were going to make that our new hangout but of course when we made it there the diner was filled with 12th graders. And that's when Zach and Mark came up to us and invited us to sit with them. We denied their invitation but it didn't even matter what our answer would be because they pulled us both and sat us down on a diner chair near them and their friends who don't go to school with us. "Hey guys, Max doesn't play sports, he sings!" he tells his older friends as he laughs with them. I roll my eyes, and try to ignore them and their comments for the rest of the time. After a couple hours of being forced to stay with them and being made fun of by all of them, while Zach and his friends were distracted by the good looking girls at the other table, Will and I made a run for it, we managed to escape the diner without any of them noticing.

At home that night my mom was still being caring and heartfelt to me, I don't know what caused her to act this way. Each day she continued to act the same, my curiosity grew, I ended up asking her that night. "Mom, if you don't mind me asking, why are you acting so different?" I said. "Different? What do you mean different, I am acting the same as I always do ..." she stuttered. "C'mon mom, you can tell me." I said with a small smile. "Well... I have been seeing a councillor. You see Max, ever since your sister passed away I didn't think about anyone-else because I was still so upset about her but my councillor told me to take the love I have for your sister through another child, even if it's not my child, but I just realized I have you and I always have! You can be my little baby boy too right?" She had a smile on her face and a tear was streaming down her right cheek. "Mom, I'm always going to be your little baby boy." I said blushing. My mom hugged me tight, when I was in her arms that night I felt like everything was going to be okay.

I went to school again the next day and so far Zach and his gang hadn't been bugging me at all, I was confused. Did they decide to stop? Did I scare them off? Either way I was happy they weren't annoying me. The lunch bell rang and I ran out of class to go find Will, I see him waiting by my locker at the end of the hallway and I run over to him. After stuffing my books into my locker, Will and I went to the cafeteria for lunch.

As we entered the cafe, different smells hit my nose, the smell of burgers and hotdogs being cooked, I could smell hot cheesy cheese pizza being baked in the ovens. Will and I made our way to the food station and stood in a line filled with at least 30 students or more. Everyone including us had a tray in their hands. After 15 minutes of constant waiting, we finally made it to the front of the line. The lunch lady working behind the food station looked really old, she had a hair net on, which was weird because she had more hair on her upper lip then on her head. She had a small but noticeable mole under the corner of her nose, she looked like she didn't know how to put on makeup based on the messy job she did on her face. She looked at me and gestured with her hand at the food in front of her. "Ehh, I'll take that, that and that." I said as I pointed to a small bowl of Cesar salad, a hotdog and some fries. She put them on my tray and sent me off. "Go find a table and I'll follow you when I get my food" Will said as he smiled at me," Sure thing!" I replied.

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I took my tray and I walked away to find a good table, a good table would be a table not near the older kids. As I was looking I saw girl who was sitting down at a table alone beside the window, she looked like she was my age. I was looking at her, and that's when she caught my eye, our eyes locked and she started to smile at me. She was beautiful, she had her dark brown hair in a high pony tail, she wore dark blue denim jeans and had on a black 'Beatles' T-shirt. Her big brown eyes lit up as she was looking at me, I don't believe in love at first sight but that's what it felt like.

As I was walking over to her Zach passed by me, but as he was passing by me he intentionally shoved my tray in my face. "Oopps! Sorry, didn't see you there, you should really watch where you're going next time, pretty boy!" he said sarcastically. "UGH! That's it, I'm sick of you!" I yelled angrily, Zach was stunned by my reaction and so was everyone else in the cafe, I could see the girl I liked watching me with worry in her eyes. The whole cafe's attention turned to me and Zach. "What are you going to do about it little girl!" he said with a big smile on his face. I lifted up my sleeves and I was getting in to fighting position, I was ready to give him what he deserved and he looked ready to fight too, but we were both stopped by Will. He came in between us and said "Stop! Stop! Max what are you doing? Just let it go man, who cares!" "Yeah just let it go loser! Hahaha!" Zach said laughing. I listened to what Will was saying and I decided that Zach wasn't worth lt., I stormed out of the cafe with Will and didn't even bother looking back. Will and I went out for lunch instead; we went to 'Slims.' "Dude, I'm sorry I don't know what got over me... it's just I---"Don't even worry about it man, I know what it's like, you don't need to explain anything to me." Will said cutting me off. I was glad to have a friend as great as Will, without him I don't know what I'd do. The rest of that afternoon went well since I managed to avoid Zach and his friends.

That day I realized that the people in the cafe and the locker room all saw Zach pushing me around but didn't even do anything to help me, that's when the thought struck my mind ... Zach only pushes me around and teases me when there are people around. But why? Is my misery a comedy show to the other kids? How come no one ever tries' stopping it? Could it be that the fact that the people around me don't stop it, they are part of the problem? Why did Zach pick on me in the first place? Does he do it because I like different things then him? Or maybe because I always stood up to him? Or is it because Zach doesn't want the other kids to get influenced by me, or else everyone will start standing up to him and he can't pick on anyone anymore? I had a lot of thinking to do and a lot of questions to answer.

I was being tormented in school every day, but I didn't want to tell my mom after everything just worked out between us and because I know she would do something crazy, so I decided to not tell anyone other than Will, who was usually with me when I do get teased and made fun of. I may seem like I am tough on the outside but these past few days in school have been really bad, Zach and his friends haven't been leaving me alone for a minute. During lunch break I still get called "girl," "princess" and sometimes people even throw food or used napkins at me. I just don't know what to do anymore, should I ignore it? Or should I start a fight? I am so confused and I don't know what to doll just feel all alone, I don't think this is ever going to stop. After a long time of thinking, I decided to ask my English teacher about it, I guessed maybe she would know what to do.

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After school was done on Thursday I went to find my English teacher, I found her in her classroom doing some paper work. IIHi Mrs. Hopkins, can I ask you something?" I said. IIGo for it" she said while looking through her papers. As I was talking to her she was still looking through her work and marking tests and she didn't look like she was paying attention but I continued talking. "Okay, well I have this friend ... and umm ... He is getting teased and pushed around in school and he doesn't know what he should do, should he ignore it and move on, or fight the guy?" I said unconvincingly. When I was done speaking she looked up at me with an interested look in her eye, she stood up and adjusted her crooked glasses. IIMr. Ringwood I want to let you know that by definition what those people are doing to your 'friend' is called 'bullying' and bullying is a crime. This matter should be dealt with urgently and swiftly. And I would advise that he should contact a person close to him such as a relative, a parent or a teacher. At the same time I would suggest that he not get involved in any kind of physical fight with the bully, as that will also cause him to get in trouble and most likely get him injured. I hope the best for you and your 'friend,' and please feel free to talk to me if you ever need any kind of assistance" she said while she smiled and winked at me. "Thanks Mrs. Hopkins that really helped" I said smiling back. "Don't mention it" she replied with a smirk on her face.

That's when I realized ... teachers actually do help, Well, that and I should go tell someone, If Zach doesn't want to accept me for the person I am and he has a problem with what I like then I am just going to have to show him that this is the end of the line. Tomorrow, I am going to break the wall of silence.

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The next morning 1told my mom about everything she was so sweet about it, she insisted that she and 1have to go to the principal's office today and stop this. That same day at 3:34pm after school my mom, Zach and 1met in the principal's office. My mom and 1were sitting on a couch in the principal's office waiting for the principle {Mr. Briggs' to call Zach in. 1was anxious, worried and a bit excited to see what would happen, before 1knew it Zach stepped into the office. "Hi Mr. Briggs" Zach said kindly, 1have never seen that kind of side of Zach before; when he was talking to Mr. Briggs he was so kind and mature. Zach saw me and my mom on the other side of his office and his eyes widened with worry, 1could tell he now knew what he was in here for. "Take a seat Mr. Brookes" Mr. Briggs said stiffly as he pulled out a chair in front of Zach. "Do you know why you're in here?" Mr. Briggs said while making it obvious by glancing at my mom and I. "Urnrn, not really sir, why?" Zach said with a blank expression on his face. "Oh really, well allow me to explain. Mr. Brookes you're in here because you have committed a crime. You have been bullying Mr. Ringwood since the beginning ofthe school year from what 1 heard, is that correct?" Mr. Briggs said sternly. {{Well, you see 1--" "No more excuses, bullying is a big deal in school and it will not be tolerated." Mr. Briggs looked really mad from what 1could see and he was being very serious. "Do you realize you have just jeopardized your chances of getting into a good university or receiving any scholarships?" he yelled. Zach was shaking, sweaty and choked up by what Mr. Briggs said. {{Iwill be calling your parents and letting them know about all your shenanigans' these past few weeks, and 1am sure they will be disappointed in knowing that their son is suspended for 4 days!" he said as he waved his hands around. That's when 1couldn't believe what 1saw, Zach Brookes was crying. Tears were streaming down his face and slowly dropping on his denim jeans. 1never thought a guy like him would cry, 1was shocked.

After the whole speech Mr. Briggs gave Zach, Zach apologized to me and promised to never bug me again, I thought after his 4 day suspension he would be after me again but he hasn't even been communicating with me. To be honest I didn't think he was actually going to stop but he has been being nicer to me, he hasn't bugged me at all this week. His friends do the same; they treat me kindly and don't tease me anymore about liking different things. I was so happy that everything worked out for me after speaking up. After everything settled down and it was all over, I decided to join the high schools band and choir and I was soon known by a lot of students & that girl I saw in the cafeteria is in choir too!

I finally found people who were just like me and accepted me for who I am, and I learned that speaking up for myself can fix everything.

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