This pic is of me, age 8.
The other day, I read a news story about a young girl who is suing her school bullies for harassing her on Facebook and torturing her at school. And good for her, I hope she wins that suit, because this whole mess with bullying has been out of control since I was a kid.
Now on the side of this news story was a link to a new page that tracks school bullying policies. Now most school policies are a joke, and not even worth the paper they are written on, but I got curious. I wanted to know about the last school I was in before being homeschooled.
Marie V. Duffy Elementary.
I was in Miss Venerosso’s 2nd Grade class of 1994-1995. We didn’t have a regular classroom. Instead, my class was held outside in a trailer, due to the school’s over population problem. We shared the trailer with the kindergarten class, and both teachers would swap work. So while my class was re-learning the alphabet, the kindergarteners next door were doing division. Go figure.
I was beaten daily by a gang of kids, one of which (a boy named Dan) had been left back. (I promise you don’t forget a 2nd grader who shaves.) Name something about me, I was beaten for it. I was:
The only mixed-race child
One of a handful of ethnic children
The only anime fan
The only wrestling fan
The token nerd (sans glasses, braces or pocket protectors)
The only Power Ranger fan (Everyone else loved V.R. Troopers)
The tallest girl
The only curly haired girl
The girl with the darkest eyes
The only girl with hair so dark brown, it’s almost black
The only straight A student with A+’s on her record
Name something else about me. I had my ass kicked for it.
Mama went to the school every single day, complaining to the faculty that I was being injured. Just as you see in the new movie Bully, Mama was told “kids will be kids” and “we’re doing all we can” all lies.
My principal even suggested I was crazy, making it all up in my head. “What is she doing to MAKE the kids do this to her? She should apologize for making Kelly punch her and to Dan for making him want to kick her. Bullying is all the victim’s fault you know, Kori must be a problem child. Have you thought about putting her on Ritalin? She’s a bad girl.”
Mama would bring in my medical bills. Suddenly, I wasn’t “crazy” or a “bad girl” anymore.
Every day, she would speak with the teacher, the principal, the PTA members, the moms and dads of my bullies, any adult with an open ear. Nothing was done.
Now my memories of those days are a haze. My mom told me the other day while cleaning out old records that I’ve had about four concussions, all stemming from my time there. I really only remember the last one.
It was late spring, 1995. I don’t remember how the fight started. I was on the playground, and I just wanted to make a quick sandcastle, since the swings were all taken. I saw my bullies start gunning for me at full speed, so I started running.
I made it as far as the parking lot, before I was tackled to the ground and beaten. While Dan left the biggest marks, the worst damage was done by my female bullies, Kelly and Heather. There was an even mix of boys and girls kicking my ass. Gravel and sand were blown in my face in between punches.
They propped my head on a rock, by body prone in the noon-day sun. They made sure my head was facing the school building, because they wanted to know how long it would take for anybody to realize I was gone.
Everything hurt. I couldn’t move. My one eye was swollen shut and became a black eye. My other eye had gravel in it, but I could see the clock pretty well.
That’s how I knew it took 20 minutes before someone realized I was missing.
Finally, a custodian came out to get me. She had come outside several times before because of this, and for reasons I don’t know, she hated me. Big fat cow of a woman too. With a moustache and a bad acne problem. The school worked her hard, and had her doing jobs she didn’t initially sign up for, but that’s no excuse to take it out on a child.
She was my only shade from the sun. She just folded her arms and said “Get the hell up. Stop being a damn crybaby.” She wasn’t afraid to curse in front of kids.
It took all of my strength to stand up. She wouldn’t help me. I stumbled to the school building, then used the brick wall for leverage. I made it as far as the door, before I threw up, and blacked out.
The Vice Principal, Rocco Galucchi, (I’m pretty sure I misspelled that) came outside. He was the only GOOD person at the school, a guardian angel in the disguise of a 1940’s gangster style body. He woke me up, helped me to my feet, and walked me to the nurse’s office, where I again threw up and blacked out.
The next few hours are a blur to me. Mama had to pick me up. The nurse was upset with my condition, but they had no clue how bad off I was. Mama took me home, but when she saw I was throwing up my afternoon snack, couldn’t even keep air down and that I was yelling about how bad my head hurt, she freaked and took me to the pediatrician. He freaked and sent me to the hospital.
After a number of X-rays and tests, the doctor came to my mother. At first, he asked if anybody got the license of the car that hit me. When she explained that my injuries were the result of bullying, the doctor put up my X-ray.
On one side of my back, there was a large footprint from Dan. The doctor looked at the bruising and blistering of the wound, and said “Ok, little Koriander is lucky to be alive right now. See where she was kicked? If he had kicked her one centimeter this way, she would have lost all use of this kidney. One to two centimeters this way, and she’d be paralyzed from the waist down.”
I had a grade two concussion and deep spinal bruising.
I was placed on a medically induced vacation from school. I was just about a vegetable. Everything hurt, and Mama had to help me do everything. Walking, sitting up, even going to the bathroom was a chore. I couldn’t play or run around, I felt useless.
Watching ECW Wrestling was my saving grace. Raven and Dreamer were working a storyline that really shone a light on my life at the time.
Raven portrayed the anger I had inside. Dressed like a grunge-era rebel, he voiced all of the hurt I had in me. How society was a failure, how he couldn’t find a place in the world, so he had to carve one out. How the mainstream world as we knew it had no love for misfits and outcasts. He dealt with all the same hatred I had, and he acted it all out.
But across the ring was Tommy Dreamer. Even though Dreamer dealt with the exact same crap as Raven, he viewed the struggle as a challenge to overcome, not a reason to bemoan his fate. Every rejection from mainstream society was just one more hurdle to jump, one more reason to keep going. Dreamer’s message through his matches was that you could be a screw up, you could be an outcast, but you could still be somebody. If you were willing to fight for yourself, and anything you stand for, then you can become a champion.
It was perfect, yin and yang booking. Raven was the Yin, the darkness, the hatred that I felt towards my peers, but Dreamer was the Yang, the light, the hope, the voice I needed. Seeing those two made me better. Made me stronger. Made me want to get up off the couch, and go face my demons.
I was only back in school for a few short weeks before the summer. By the time I had started getting brave and fighting back, the proceedings were underway for me to be homeschooled. By the fall of 1995, I was already doing 3rd and 4th grade work at home.
For years, I often wondered why I went through all of this. They always say “God’s plan” right? Well what kind of plan involves the daily torture of a little girl?
WELL I found my answer. God did have a plan after all. And I’m actually pretty pleased with it. No, I'm excited. I'm actually pretty smug about this.
So getting back to the article, I clicked on the link for the site tracking school anti-bullying policies, and found absolutely nothing. The site is still under construction, so it only had 8 schools up.
So I Googled the last school I went to. And WOW.
The Marie V. Duffy school has been under new management since 2008. The school was bought out some time ago, so NONE of the people that were there when I was in school are there anymore. Their website still looks like a monkey coded it.
Also, a search for former school faculty turned up empty. No ex-teacher bios, nothing. It’s all gone.
A classmate search also turned up empty. In fact, I didn’t even find myself! That’s fine though. Most of my bullies were all about wanting to grow up fast so they could either join the military or a gang, so I’m content to believe that they probably all either died in the war in Iraq, or became victims of gang violence and prison time. I don’t have to know anything about them, so go on and let me just believe that.
The school had been quietly expunging some of their files every 1-2 years since before I was there. This was done to save cabinet space. So IF anything of mine exists there, it’s just the bare minimum. Even records from as recent as 2007 turned up missing and or erased.
The once Caucasian dominated school is now 57% Hispanic. Whites dominate a small minority. This is amazing to me, since in my class there was ONE and only ONE Hispanic kid, and only two other Hispanic students in the entire school.
The education hasn’t really changed. On one school review site, I saw two 5-star reviews from parents ~ who also work there ~ and plenty of 0-2-star reviews from parents who want their kids to have a REAL education. Just like my mom, I saw plenty of pissed off parents loudly complaining that they had gifted kids… doing remedial work. As a punishment for being smart I guess.
Most of my searching turned up empty, except for one, small notice.
As sanctioned by the new superintendent and the new principal, there is a new anti-bullying policy.
Due to a record left behind by an un-named little girl in the class of 94-95, in the case of bullying, strict action is to take place. And should a person or persons elevate said bullying anywhere near the level of the case involving “Ms. 1995” police action WILL be enforced and the children involved WILL have charges against them.
In short, the policy means that NO other child will be allowed to go through what I did, without severe, legal repercussions befalling the bully or bullies involved.
Knowing that future generations of kids will be spared what I went through has brought me closure. I am very happy to see this.