Letter to the editor: ADM grad reflects on hardships


To the editor:

Hello. I am a graduate from ADM. I am writing today with the hope that my voice, and others’, will be heard.

ADM used to be a wonderful school. I used to love waking up and going to classes because when I was younger, I knew the teachers cared. But the second I hit high school, everything seemed to change.

There are brilliant teachers in the district. Some of them were there to make sure I was doing okay, making sure I knew their classrooms were a safe place. But that’s the thing: out of the entire school, only their classroom felt safe. This is not how a school should be. The principal is one of the worst parts of it.

Ever since I was little, I have expressed myself differently from everyone else. I dressed differently. I acted differently. I learned differently. I was very proud of that fact. But ADM did not like it.

I remember striving my hardest for opportunities that other students would get handed to them. I worked my absolute ass off to have all A’s, to be in multiple extracurriculars and to maintain a set schedule. But since I wasn’t friends with “the right people,” I never got the same chances.

I never understood why I was never chosen for anything, and I never understood why I never was recognized for my efforts. I tried so hard in multiple cases that I was often called “teacher’s pet,” “try hard,” “suck up” and others. This is when I learned to keep my head down in the hallways. Freshman year was the year I learned exactly what Animal Farm by George Orwell meant.

Everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others.

I’ve always loved literature. In my sophomore year, I became heavily interested in writing poetry. I would write and write for hours on end on my school computer. It helped me convey my feelings. There were only ever two people who read this poetry: My AP literature teacher during my senior year and my counselor during my sophomore year.

Both of these people helped me through my high school experience. Unfortunately, the counselor I trusted moved on to a different school, and I was stuck with someone who could not gain my trust. So I stopped writing due to the fact that our computers monitored everything. (This was the only reason the counselor had access to my poetry.) This meant that I no longer had one of my major coping mechanisms.

My sophomore year was also the year I was sexually assaulted by a man much older than me. This was on top of complications at home. I was thrown in a very deep depression and was later diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety and major depressive disorder.

This made the drive to complete my work almost non-existent. I started to notice more things around me about how students would act, how staff would act, how I would act. I started to dress down more, not even having the energy to want to get up in the morning.

One day I came to school in a sage green button up and black jeans. I had no problems all day until the principal came into the commons at the end of the school day. He pointed at my shirt and waved his finger disapprovingly at me, giving me the impression that I was not allowed to wear the shirt because it was masculine, and I was meant to be feminine.

I saw multiple girls wearing shorts so high cut that they could be found in the back at Victoria’s Secret, but yet I was the one dress coded for wearing “a man’s shirt.”

Everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others.

But this was not the only time that I had been discriminated against by a teacher. I had a hard time in physics class. Math was never my strong suit, and the teacher did not teach in a way that I could learn easily. This led me to ask one of my close friends for help in the class. He was able to help teach me and get myself through the class.

One day we were taking a test (this teacher made it a point to give every other person a different test) and my friend and I got the same test. We are on opposite sides of the table, and we have folders up. I went about my test feeling quite confident in it. I turned it in. Later that week I got it back and saw that I had received a failing score.

The teacher proceeded to tell us to get into groups with people on the same test and compare answers. (This is when I found out my friend and I had the same test.) We compared, and we had the same answers, yet he had gotten a 100% on the test. I asked the teacher why my test was wrong, and he looked at my paper, at my friend’s paper and continued to say, “Well, I don’t know.” I asked if I could have the points back since the test was right, and he told me no and that I would have to redo the test in my own time.

This would not happen once . . . but for every single test I would take in that class. This teacher also proceeded to lose my work, falsely mark it and make me redo it, over and over.

When I went to the principals about the issue after discussing with friends whether they had the same issue with this teacher and composing an email including their stories, I was told it was “chatty” and they could take no action, despite its occurring to multiple students.

Not only did this teacher not correctly go about his work, he also allegedly sexually harassed multiple students, even going as far as passing a condom to one of them.

This teacher would go out of his way to humiliate students as well, finding pictures of them in ADM news articles or on the internet and pasting them into his slideshows and pulling up clips of them in class on video without their permission. This teacher once again proved:

Everyone is equal, But some are more equal than others.

As a student who prided myself in taking multiple extracurriculars, I found myself all over the board in various activities that were all on top as well as having a job. But despite being heavily passionate and constantly working to improve in these areas, I was always treated as an outcast.

I was a cheerleader for 3.5 years. By the time I hit my sophomore year, I was on the varsity squad and competitional squad. My junior year, a new coach was introduced because our former one was in pursuit of a different job. During tryouts, this coach proceeded to tell me that I would not make the varsity team because I was too chatty and that I looked like a boy.

The only words I had spoken during tryouts was to my fellow teammate after she dropped her bobby pin when we were done performing. I had said, exactly “Hey, you dropped your bobby pin.” This was not the only time that I was put out during an extracurricular.

As a kid who had been performing at the local theater when I was young, I had of course joined ADM’s drama club. It was something I was very fond of, and I always thought I had a chance at even minor roles. But I was later put down to find out that the director very obviously had her favorites.

As a teacher in the classroom, she was always very sweet, and her class was enjoyable, but the second it was time for drama, you knew who you were to her and your place. You did not have a chance at a major role if you weren’t a favorite. I do not hold this against the teacher, but I would like her to know that it does affect students.

And the final activity I felt harmed by a teacher in was band. I was in band ever since I went to the De Soto school. I never switched instruments, and I was heavily dedicated to it. Band was my favorite class of the day, and it’s what got me through most things. I loved music, everything about it.

But my senior year I was presented with an unfortunate circumstance. Despite being fourth chair sophomore year, third chair junior year and on my way to being first chair my senior year, the band was swept right out from under me. The section I was in was not going to be a part of the marching show that year. I did not have the inclination to march as my instrument because I had never marched it before (including middle school years), and I would’ve needed to section lead it.

I did not want to provide improper instruction for the section, and so I decided to sit it out hoping to come back to the concert band because of my dedication to the activity. I had friends that came in and out of marching and concert choosing one over the other, so I thought I would be permitted to do the same especially since it was a certain circumstance.

But I was told I would not be allowed back. This shattered my heart, and I was convinced that the teacher had not liked me. I still practiced my instrument despite not being in a band. I still talked with the band kids, and I came to watch all the shows. But the moment that I had been waiting for my entire high school experience had been ripped away.

The moment when we graduate, and your name is announced. If you were a band kid they would pound the drum twice to show you were one of them. I do not hold anything against the teacher for this. He had to set his foot down, but it is another one of those things that affects a student.

My senior year. My major activities. I never got a single senior night. All the activities I’ve ever waited to have a senior night for, ripped away. The one thing that would’ve made my senior year. Gone. Because the change had to start somewhere.

Everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others.

It’s not even just the teachers who prove that you have to be a certain person to fit in. I used to have a close friend who later became a bully to me in the name of popularity. I had my style, and I had my ways and my struggles. But to some, my style would become their popularity stunt.

Bullying in my class was passive aggressive and manipulative. And that’s exactly what it was to this person. They went on to copy every single thing about me and still get handed everything they ever wanted by the staff at ADM. Despite my still trying to maintain a friendship with this person, any time I did something slightly unusual they would make fun of it, give me weird looks and then a month or so down the line go to copy it.

This really shows me that it doesn’t matter who I am. It matters who I know. This student would later go on to be the prom queen.

Everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others.

One day I was walking to class, minding my own business, but for a reason I still don’t know why I was shoved into the metal doors and brick wall and given a concussion. The student who did this didn’t even receive a slap on the wrist and would later go on to receive a full-ride scholarship for track.

Everyone is equal, but some are more equal than other.

My freshman year, I was scared out of my mind to come out of the closet, because in my shop class people would relentlessly use LGBT slurs. I spoke out once in this class to say, “There is nothing wrong with being gay,” and I got my hand slammed into drawers, laughed at behind my back and glared at from across the room. These students are the kids on our football field, playing the games you love to watch so much.

Everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others.

If ADM is about pride and opportunity, why weren’t they ever proud of ALL of their students? Why did they refuse to respect people’s individuality? Why did they only present opportunities to the ones who fit conformity?

There are so many teachers in that school who deserve a better place than ADM, one where their hands won’t be tied behind their back when dealing with students. Working was the only way I could keep my mind off my trauma and depression. The second school became a hostile environment where your work meant nothing, that is when I attempted suicide. This would happen multiple times in my life, and no one would ever know about it because I feared going to elders, the ones who should be looking out for the kids who are building our future.

And the kids with the opportunities that others were never given? A lot of the times they would be the worst. They are being enabled to indulge in their horrible habits of degrading, berating and shredding down kids who don’t have the same things as them.

Everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others.

Petersons, I am so sorry this district has let you down. Caelen, you were a light in so many people’s dark days. I am proud of you, as many people are. I miss seeing you around.

Please know, it’s not too late. We can create a future where students feel safe in their schools. Please, take some time to check in on your loved ones.

Take some time to research the statistics of mental health in schools.

It does not affect your curriculum to show that you care.

It does not affect your curriculum to make the school a safer place.

It does, however, affect your students.

They spend eight hours of their day if not more in this place. You are risking LIVES by enabling bullies the way you do.

Please know, your choices not only affect the outcomes, but it affects the students you didn’t even consider in the equation. We are building a future for our kids. Not just a football team.

Min Anne


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