Letter to the editor: ADM student describes sufferings, indifference


To the editor:

Hello. My name is Andrew David Busch. I’m currently 17 years old, and I live here in Adel. I’ve gone to ADM since kindergarten and, to be completely honest, I hope no kid has to suffer going through ADM schools ever.

Just within my high school years, I managed to become a student council president. I joined the National Honor Society. I was an ADM ambassadors president. I was in speech, mock trial and other activities. I have numerous awards and recognitions for my work and effort under my belt.

I strived to be that perfect student and worked my ass off to get there. During all of this, I also continuously struggled with major depressive disorder (diagnosed). During this school year and even at times before that, it was so bad I thought the only answer was ending my own life.

A lot of factors played into my unstable mentality, but I can confidently say ADM didn’t help. Personally, I was never really bullied at ADM, but I know kids who were and still are. And when we look at the term “bullying,” it has a multitude of definitions today, and it can be both students and staff. Even when trying to seek help, they usually only offer support for show.

So ADM can say, “We care!” . . . until they don’t.

From my own experience with ADM, they proved they didn’t care when they took my family and I and swept us under the rug.

In October 2022 I was admitted to Iowa Lutheran Hospital for suicidal ideation and plans to go through with it. I was also dealing with substance abuse. I’m a pretty open book regarding this subject because I know the stigma surrounding it.

I was in the behavioral health for adolescents from Oct. 24-28. During this time, ADM High School Principal Lee Grieble was calling my mom and telling her that I needed to be in school.

While in the hospital, all I wanted to do was get out. It was what I like to call “a sophisticated daycare for the troubled.” It was a horrible place with only a few really great people who are there to help, not just there to get paid.

Then I had a two-week treatment plan with other kids at Iowa Lutheran, starting at 8 a.m. and going till 3 p.m. They used to have a school program with teachers there to help, but the hospital lost funding for that. To replace the school program, we had a 30-minute study hall at the end of the day.

I was expected to keep up with school work. At the time, I had weeks if not more than a month’s worth of AP calculus, AP statistics, humanities, French IV, AP chemistry, physics and financial literacy. I ended up failing most of those classes or had them dropped with the little help the principal could offer because he had the authority to drop the classes.

I had only a few staff reach out. The other ones were nice to my face but then would say stuff, thinking I wouldn’t hear it. For example, I’ve been told by a teacher at ADM that I’m usually a topic that’s brought up in almost all of their teacher meetings.

I had another teacher who told me not to worry about her chemistry class and that it would all be okay just to go behind my back and tell my principal that I was basically a lost cause in her class. Or I have teachers who say they reached out to my family and I, but they never truly did.

Because of the overwhelming stress and so called “friends” who hurt me (along with other personal things), I went back to the hospital on Nov. 22 This time I was put in the psychiatric ward.

The night leading up to this hospital visit was a long one. I went back to school after this trip, thinking I was okay, but I was so wrong. I’ve been through treatment for my substance abuse at Orchard Place.

I’m in no way, shape or form putting this all on the school and the people there, but I am saying they had a lot to do with how angry, sad and just exhausted I was.

And to those of you who say that I did this to myself and didn’t seek help, I don’t even know what to say. I did try to get help for years. I’ve been through numerous psychiatric evaluations and have had therapists since I was a kid! I wanted to go to the hospital and get treatment. I wanted help.

I honestly don’t know where to start or how to write my issues with the school in a paragraph, so here’s a list:

1. I’ve been a straight-A student, with maybe a few Bs, throughout all of high school. When my grades started slipping, I felt I was being punished more than helped. It got so bad with my counselor Melonie Gill that she would show up to meetings at my parent-teacher conference to have an intervention, without my consent or my mom’s consent. This is all after Gill knew that my family and I didn’t like her as my counselor. We eventually switched to Jennifer Rebel, and let me tell you, she deserves so much more than ADM. She actually tried to help and do everything she could and actually made me feel safe.

2. When I would reach out to staff at ADM with paragraphs, I would usually get a sentence or two back saying something along the lines of their being here for me, then switching up later right to my face and behind my back. Or I wouldn’t even get a response back.

3. My last meeting with Lee Griebel, my mom and me was an absolute joke. Griebel started to make jokes about his “party days” and how he wasn’t the best student, basically trying to relate to me in a sense. He also constantly tells my mom and me how he understands what we’re going through because his daughter went through the same. My situation and everyone else’s isn’t the same because we struggle. During this meeting, Griebel also gave me “options.” What it really felt like was that he was trying to just get me out of there, considering he was preaching PLATO online courses at home. I made the decision to stay until some recent stuff happened with students and me there that caused me to not ever want to set foot in that building again.

4. As part of the student council, we have meetings with Griebel every month. At our last meeting, we discussed having a mental health week or day or whatever to spread awareness (before all of this happened). We were basically told by Griebel that we could do it as long as it doesn’t disrupt class time. This is the same principle who allows kids to be pulled out of class, unwillingly at times, to go send off whatever team just won big or is going to state. Not once can I remember when they would send mock trial teams, acdec teams, speech and similar off to whatever competition we had. Or the holiday celebrations at which we devote an entire day. Don’t even get me started with homecoming. We did things for Beat Cancer that took away from class time. Cancer is serious, but so is mental health, and it can be just as deadly.

5. There was also a time where a group of students, including myself, had to change the school dress code in the handbook because of concerns raised by students for years. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a girl showing little to no midriff, and yet they were sent home. Pajama pants and slippers were against the dress code, too. That didn’t stop Griebel from telling me he liked my Iowa Hawk pajama pants only to turn around and
send girls home when they’re looking at places a staff shouldn’t even look at! It was sexist and disgusting, so we got it changed through the principal and board.

6. I’ve had numerous encounters where the teachers would tell me to worry about myself and my health first before their class and homework. Then when I would worry about myself and getting better, I continued to get behind, and they would have my own mom against me, saying I just wasn’t “putting in the work.”

7. I recently just had all of my childhood best friends and some friends I just met within the last year who I thought were close to me leave me for a kid they all had problems with. I should have known some of them never cared when all they would do is use me, lie to me, manipulate me and the like. I had a whole group of these friends choose a party in Ames to go to instead of coming to see me the night I got out of the hospital. One of these friends went through the exact same thing at ADM, and I was there for this friend every step, even going as far as trying to go to the hospital during COVID-19 to see the person.

8. I think recently what tops it all off is how I’m now finishing my senior year at home because of that school and what they allowed to happen. I had someone I thought would never hurt me in the way they did and continue to do, but they just did probably one of the worst things possible at this time. They posted a lot of private things about me on social media and are continuing to hurt me because I finally told them to get out of my life. I told this kid I didn’t want to be friends numerous times, and they went and did this. I was in shock. I was angry and just sad. I’m no saint and in the heat of the moment, I did the same thing right back. What I posted wasn’t false, though, and it didn’t make fun of me going to the psych ward. When we both took all of our posts down, I went to Griebel about it. He did nothing. Couldn’t even respond to the email I had sent him about it when it happened. I have a feeling it’s partially due to the fact that the kid this happens to be about has a parent who is affiliated with ADM. The whole school now knew everything about me. I had no friends there, and the school again did nothing to help me in the end. Personally, I think it could have been solved by firing Griebel years ago when he had his little incident at an Iowa Hawk game (Look it up).

I’m not perfect. I’ve been mean. I’ve said and done things I couldn’t take back, but who hasn’t? What I can do now and what we all can do is learn from this and do better.
To parents who think they know the ins and outs of social media, you have no idea. Some of you, I doubt, are even parents or understand anything that’s going on but would just like to put your say in the situation.

To the Peterson family and those who have been hurt by this district, I’m behind you as I know you have my back as well. I am so sorry to anyone suffering with mental health, suffering at that school or both.

I would also like to end this by saying I’m not blaming anyone or anything. I’m bringing up what’s been swept under the rug to seek justice. ADM has some amazing staff and students who deserve better than what they have and what they go through.

My name is Andrew David Busch. My phone number is 515-478-0461. Please reach out to me if you need someone. If you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to me, I totally get it and respect it. Know there are resources available, though:

Don’t be afraid to seek help. Don’t be afraid to speak out. The suicide hotline number in 988.

Andrew David Busch


  1. [Moderator’s note: This comment was made by someone using a fake email address and probably a fake name.]
    So the school is to blame for all the horrible things that have happened in life but none of the good things. It seems to be forgotten that schools are there to teach kids and provide an education. Things that are happening outside of the school or on social media would be the responsibility of the parents and/or the police. As far as the number of things listed, these all seem to be very childish thoughts that are most likely brought on by the feeling that everyone is out to get you. The reality of most situations is that nobody cares what you are doing because they are more concerned with their own lives. The thoughts that teachers are talking about you behind your back is almost laughable as well. Out of an entire school full of kids, you are the one that they isolated. Get real. Now that you are out of the school, do they find someone else to mess with for entertainment?

    I would say that this is probably the real issue: the parents lack involvement, rules, or any accountability in raising a child. The child learns that they can do whatever they want whenever they want, and they do not like it when they are held to standards and expectations as others. Maybe instead of trying to point the finger at others, a mirror would be better.

    • Obviously, you didn’t read my statement completely as I specifically stated I’m not blaming the school or anyone there. I’m opening up about what they’ve hid for years. ADM has some great people from my experience. And they’ve done great things. Yet all we ever hear about is the good. Things need to change.

      • Andrew, thank you for the courage to speak out against the issue at hand. I am sorry you have had to deal with such treatment. You speaking out speaks volumes. I’ve lost some special people to suicide, and your story has touched my heart. I don’t know you, but I just want to say you are strong and you will go far in life! Do not be ashamed of who you are You have some wonderful accomplishments already. I hope for nothing but the best for you and your family. God bless you!

      • Andrew, I am a mother, a grandmother and an aunt. My daughter is 41 years old and a graduate of ADM School District. She was bullied by a student. This lead to her not wanting to go to school, depression, drug use and an attempted suicide. We back and forth to the school so many times, and you are right. NOTHING done. I have watched my niece be bullied by the current principal’s daughter or step-daughter when she was in high school and now my grandson. He was bullied at the elementary school, and it has carried over to the middle school. He consistently is always the problem. I believe everything you have said and am so proud at how brave you are to have told your story. Your story has certainly touched my heart. Disregard any negative comments. People can be ignorant at times. Like you, my heart aches for the Peterson family. Wishing you the best, young man.

    • Mr. Madison (if that is your name), your comment shows exactly what Andrew Busch is talking about. How about some praise for his accomplishments, for taking that step to get help? All you did was do exactly what the school has been doing. How about finding a way to help instead of picking at his personal words and experiences? Help these young kids struggling through life. I am 47 years old, and school is not what it was when I was attending. Of course, there was bullying and hate happening, but it was not as obvious as it is in today’s world. Kind words go a long ways . . . and could save a life!

    • Are you in high school? Because from this comment, it doesn’t sound like it. Schools treat students so differently depending on their last names and who their parents are. If someone is getting bullied on social media, they should be able to bring it to the school. School isn’t just about education and learning. It should be a safe place where people shouldn’t get torn down everyday. Teachers shouldn’t talk behind students back. It’s very unprofessional. How is the way the school is treating students the student’s parents’ fault for how they raised their kid? From the look of this article, his parents raised him well. Students shouldn’t have to worry about their teachers talking behind there back everyday. That’s what makes kids not want to go to school. If a student is getting bullied, the principal should do something and not be afraid to punish the kid because their parents give money to the school or because they have a known last name.

  2. Hi, Andrew. It breaks my heart to see someone could comment on this article in such a judgmental, bitter and accusatory manner. Thank you for speaking up for change. While there will always be individuals, such as this Karl, who thrive on assumptions and jump at opportunities to utilize shame and guilt, there are so many more of us who are proud of you and only wish you the best. Keep advocating for yourself and more mental health/trauma-informed care training in schools!


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