“They can do a lot better:” Students walk out of school to protest incessant bullying

ALMA, Michigan — Students in Alma, Michigan picked up their signs and walked out of school on Thursday, May 18th and Friday, May 19th to protest bullying.

The students claim there is a bullying problem in their district, and said they wanted to take a stand against it. They said the problem goes beyond student-on-student violence. They said their teachers and faculty are just as much to blame.

“Someone told us we’re the reason we should have population control because it would get rid of people like us,” said Candice Sanborn, ninth-grader at Alma High School.

She said that’s just one of the many insults she has heard. She said she is a constant target for many bullies.

“Sometimes I’ll be walking through the hallway and people will shove me and I’ll hit the wall or the locker,” Sanborn said.

She, along with a handful of her peers, took matters into their own hands. They walked out of school in protest against bullying because they said the district is not doing enough to stop the problem.

“I think they can do a lot better. They could monitor more things or even just pay attention and actually listen to people,” Sanborn said.

Lisa Deline, parent, said her son Thomas used to attend school at Alma High School, but after multiple bullying incidents, she enrolled him at another school.

“You could see this kid’s imprint on his arm. Thank God he had a jacket on because if not, it probably would’ve ripped his skin,” Deline said.

According to WNEM, a social media post by a teacher at the school appeared to add fuel to the fire. The teacher posted a photo of the students protesting and captioned it “#RIPcommonsense.”

Students said the post sums up the culture at the school and is not helping to fix what they call a widespread bullying problem at Alma.

“Honestly, that makes me feel really horrible. I was one of those protesters. It makes me feel really bad. These kids literally cry in the bathroom and they don’t do anything about it,” said Caitlin Garza, 10th-grader at Alma.

Superintendent Donalynn Ingersoll told WNEM she is aware of the teacher’s post, but would not comment on any disciplinary action that may or may not take place because of it.

Students said it shouldn’t even be a question whether the teacher should be disciplined.

“We should feel safe with our teachers and we should feel like we’re in a healthy environment to talk to them and be comfortable talking to them, and with that right there, it’s showing that we are not safe or comfortable or anything,” said Gabriella Tripp, 10th-grader at Alma.

The Alma School District released the following statement to WNEM:

“This afternoon a parent group protested bullying in front of Alma High School.  Approximately 25 students left school this afternoon to join this group.

Alma Public Schools has policy and procedures in place regarding bullying.  Along with annual training for all Alma Public School staff on identifying and addressing bullying, Alma High School and Donald L. Pavlik Middle School have sponsored assemblies for all students on identifying and reporting bullying, and creating a positive school culture.  As a district, we understand bullying is a societal issue that must be addressed in all school settings.  We will continue to review our policies and practices to assure our schools are a safe learning environment for all students in our care, and that all students understand how to report bullying behavior.

Alma Schools welcomes open dialogue about any concerns parents may have.”