Has there been a recent story as heartwarming and inspiring as that of Whitney Kropp, the 16-year old sophomore at West Branch, Michigan’s Ogemaw High School? She, you’ll recall, is the young student who was nominated to the school’s homecoming court as a ‘joke’. Amid national attention for the cruel bullying measure by some fellow students, Kropp attended Friday’s night’s event, demonstrating incredible fortitude, understanding and courage.
When I first heard the story, I felt outrage. Upon learning of her plans to participate in homecoming, I was nearly moved to tears. You’ll recall, from a past blog for the movie, “Bully”, I experienced months of bullying when changing schools in junior high. It was an experience I would never wish on anyone and one I would never trade for the world as it made me a better, stronger, more understanding person. The cruelty was something I have long forgiven but also something I will never forget.
In high school I was accepted by all levels of social strata – from jocks to gear heads. I had actually become friends with many that had initially bullied me. My senior year, though, I was asked to take part in homecoming court. Some on that committee had not only treated me with disrespect at one time, but had continued that m.o. with others. I politely refused, citing other plans. It was my form of silent protest, my final nudge back.
Whitney Kropp opted for the higher road with behavior each and every one of us should emulate. And despite the fact that she is the one in school, her approach to this situation and those who perpetuated it is one we can all learn from. “I’m just as happy as I can be,” she told reporters Friday night. Just as it should be, when we treat each other the right way.