RIGBY Olivia Rasmussen got up on the stage in front of 400 Rigby Middle School classmates and told them years of bullying led to her attempted suicide.
Sometimes we let words get to us and ruin our lives," the eighth-grader said.
Olivia was one of several students who shared stories as part of a student-organized anti-bullying assembly dubbed Uprising. Eighty-two students involved in leadership and speech classes worked since early January, hoping to change the culture in their school.
Ive seen a lot of friends be bullied. I want to make a huge impact on the school, said Ernesto Lozano, 14, who helped organize the assembly.
Eighth-grader Dalton Monroe said hes ready to help. He was a bully who, in fifth grade, became a victim of bullying.
I would target (a kids) weaknesses and smallest flaws and beat them down until they felt like nothing, he said.
Now, he said, I want to turn it around and be the school known for stopping bullying.
Pam and Todd Gunter, the parents of a boy who made a so-called kill list almost a year ago, said one of the biggest issues at Rigby is how teachers define bullying. They believe their sons actions were spurred by multiple bullying incidents during a 10-day period some of which, they said, happened in the classroom in front of teachers.
But the Jefferson School District board decided no bullying took place, the Gunters said. The school board expelled the Gunters son last March.
Superintendent Ron Tolman said confidentiality requirements mean he cant comment. Rigby Middle School Principal Sherry Simmons said the district does its best to curb bullying. She said she could not talk about specific cases, but she did say the schools goal is to react swiftly when it sees bulling. Sometimes, she said, students blow situations out of proportion.
Bullying is a word thats thrown around a lot now, she said. Often its a friend or a former friend and they are saying mean things to each other. Everything is kind of transformed now, where kids think everything is bullying when someone is mean to them, but sometimes people are mean to each other and its not bullying.
Olivia Rasmussen said fellow students often downplay bullying. She wanted to tell her story to stress the effects of bullying. Until the assembly, Olivia said, only her close friends were aware of her struggles. She was nervous to stand in front of her classmates and be honest, but said she believed it was worth it.
The worst-case scenario occurred in Pocatello last month, when a 15-year-old Pocatello High School student killed herself after reportedly being bullied because she was a lesbian.
Someone shouldnt have to take their own life for people to notice, Olivia said.
Rigby counselor Kim Azbill, involved with the Uprising assembly, said kids talking to other kids makes the most difference.