When her bullied son returned home in tears after nobody signed his yearbook, a disheartened mom decided not to keep quiet. She did something to prevent her son from being bullied again, unaware of the shocking outcome.
Getting yearbooks signed is a time-honored tradition. Students pass it across the class and anxiously wait to get it back, filled with wonderful messages from their classmates and teachers. But for one mother and son, it turned out to be a harrowing experience.
When a Colorado mom got an email from her son's school that students would be given their yearbooks, she anticipated he would come home smiling. But instead of something heartwarming, the boy arrived with tears, and his mother was crushed after checking his yearbook.
NOT HIS CHEERFUL SELF
On May 24, 2022, Cassandra Ridder, 31, picked up her 12-year-old son Brody from his school in Westminster, Colorado. But something about the sixth-grader bothered her. Brody was visibly upset and not his usual self. Ridder knew something was wrong but didn't know what at first.
Ridder had just intended to publicize her agony as a mother. But to her surprise, her post immediately blew up on the internet.
The boy was gloomy, and he just wanted to listen to some music. Ridder could tell he was vexed about something. Then she asked about his yearbook to lighten up his mood. But Brody's eyes gushed with tears when he revealed something distressing to her.
AN EMPTY YEARBOOK
He narrated how his classmates turned down his request to sign his yearbook. It didn't add up for Ridder until Brody handed her his class book to see for herself. Curious, the mom grabbed it and was shocked after she flipped it open. She recounted:
"A couple of his classmates jotted down their names — but there were no messages. There was nothing about how smart, funny and awesome he is."
Ridder had known how Brody's classmates often picked on him, but this incident stood out. She read the very few names on the almanac, and what she saw next just sank her heart then and there.
A PAINFUL NOTE TO SELF
Brody's yearbook, like his peers, was supposed to be filled with amazing messages from everyone else in his class. But after seeing the boy's message for himself with his signature below, Ridder was distraught. She revealed:
"He'd written a note to himself. It read, 'I hope you make some more friends,' and he signed his own name."
Ridder claimed that Brody's classmates often teased him because he was "skinny" with ears that stuck out. It crushed him, and he cried every day because of the bullying episodes in school. But the final straw on May 24 irked Ridder, and she decided not to keep calm.
VENTING OUT ON SOCIAL MEDIA
That evening, the mother turned to the school's Facebook page for parents. She vented her frustration, saying, "My poor son. Doesn't seem like things are getting any better. 2 teachers and a total of 2 students wrote in his yearbook. Despite Brody asking all kinds of kids to sign it," adding:
"So, Brody took it upon himself to write to himself. My heart is shattered. Teach your kids kindness."
Ridder had just intended to publicize her agony as a mother. But to her surprise, her post immediately blew up on the internet. Apart from going viral, it also treated Brody with many surprises the next day.
When 11th-grader Joanna Cooper, 17, got a text from her mom with a screenshot of Ridder's post, she decided that no kid deserved to be treated like that.
"Signing someone's yearbook was all the rage...That people would tell him no and deny him a signature, it just hurt my heart," she recalled.
Cooper gathered several friends and visited Brody's homeroom class the next day. But little did she and her friends know that several other students were hatching the same plan.
FEELING IN HIS SHOES
Simone Lightfoot, an 11th-grader in Brody's school, said she could easily relate to the boy's plight.
"When I was younger, I was bullied a lot like him...If I could do one little thing to help this kid feel a little better, I'd be more than willing to," she revealed.
As Brody's fame exploded across the campus, many students flocked over to shower him with support. Maya Gregory, 14, an 8th-grader who was also a victim of bullying, felt Brody needed someone to stand up for him. "No one helped me when I was in that situation...So I wanted to be there for him," she said.
THE BEST DAY EVER
As dozens of heartwarming messages poured in on his yearbook, several older students who never knew Brody closely stepped up for him. They expressed their compassion and support after their parents shared Ridder's post on Facebook with them.
The following day, Ridder received a text from her son. "Facebook this," he wrote to her alongside a picture of his yearbook flooded with messages and signatures.
"He had messages from eighth-graders and even 11th graders...Brody's exact words to me were, 'This is the best day ever.' Some kids even put their phones for Brody to contact them," Ridder recalled.
BULLIES TURNED FRIENDS
Brody had never been this happy. His once-empty yearbook now had more than 100 signatures and motivational messages to keep him going. There were several phone numbers and a gift bag to cheer him up!
Meanwhile, Cassandra Ridder was stunned by the overwhelming attention her post amassed overnight. She echoed the sentiments of her son's supporters and was pleased with the positive outcome. Also, the kids who had previously refused to write in Brody's almanac unexpectedly lined up to sign.
"It made me feel like there's still hope," Ridder emotionally said. "Not just for Brody, but for humanity."
Questions to Ponder:
What would you do if you were in Cassandra Ridder's shoes? Would you make your son's agonies public and help him seek justice?
After seeing Brody's near-empty yearbook, his mother was furious at how his classmates neglected him. She publicized the matter on Facebook, and her post instantly caught people's attention, most from fellow parents whose children were Brody's schoolmates. The next day, the boy's yearbook was filled up with more than 100 messages, and he ended up making new friends in senior grades.
How else would you support Brody if you learned he was bullied and ignored in school?
When Brody's fellow schoolmates learned about his empty yearbook and how he was ignored in his class, they teamed up to support him. They not only filled his yearbook with motivational messages and signatures but also left their contact numbers so he could befriend them. If something similar were to happen to your friend or classmate, how would you support them?
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