(Georgia 4-H’er Olivia Forrest recently won first place in the high school division of the University of Georgia Safe and Welcoming Schools project’s first Bullying Prevention Essay Contest. For her accomplishment, Forrest was awarded a $25 Amazon gift card. The following is her winning essay.)
In manufacturing, there is a department called “quality control.” Their job is to examine parts and determine if the part was made correctly. If the part was not made correctly, it is rejected. Sometimes they work with the part to correct the flaws. Sometimes they throw it in the scrap heap.
I was a rejected part due to my flaws. Most schools tossed me in the scrap heap. By the time I was 10 years old, I had attended eight schools. Students would do things to me to get a response, then deny it. My parents had no other options but to move until Doug Clark stepped in.
Doug Clark was the principal at Belwood Elementary School in Calhoun, Georgia. He read my history and said, “I will take her.” He worked with me, my teachers and the school counselor to ensure my success. It was not a perfect school year. However, it was a successful school year. I completed the fifth grade.
Middle school was very difficult for me. People provoked me to get a reaction. No one would believe my side of the story because I was an anomaly due to my temper. But Doug Clark said he had a place for me when he was hired to be the principal at Gordon Central High School in Calhoun.
I was then home-schooled in order to be free from the bullying. Then I returned to public school because I knew that Doug Clark would be there for me.
(Cheryl Varnadoe is a state 4-H specialist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)