Students at both Edison and Roosevelt Intermediate Schools in Westfield listened intently to guest speaker John Halligan explain how the effects of bullying resulted in his son Ryan’s suicide at age 13. Mr. Halligan was invited by the principals of both schools to speak at assemblies on November 19. Mr. Halligan’s story, or Ryan’s Story, as it is called, began with a video showing photos of Ryan, who began life with developmental challenges. Mr. Halligan explained that Ryan was a victim of bullying since fifth grade and cyberbullying when a cruel rumor spread over the Internet the summer between seventh and eighth grade.
Mr. Halligan spoke for 90 minutes and answered students’ questions. He reminded students that they are on the front line and in the best position to turn bullying around by telling friends to stop. He told them,” Don’t be a bystander. Be a hero.”
“All of you are loved beyond belief,” he told the students. “Don’t ever believe that no one will miss you when you are gone. Don’t take that for granted.”
Both schools are distributing wristbands to the student body imprinted with the words, “Remember Ryan” as a reminder of the importance of respect. Both Edison’s and Roosevelt’s PTSO’s sponsored the assemblies. Parents were in attendance.
Following the morning assembly at Roosevelt, Principal Stewart Carey spoke to the sixth, seventh and eighth graders, saying, “I implore all of you to take to heart this message.”
A special parent workshop on social media, including cyberbullying, is scheduled for Westfield High School on Tuesday, November 30, from 7 – 9 PM. All Westfield parents are invited and intermediate and high school students are encouraged to attend.