LAVACA, Ark. – A moment recorded from the back of a middle school bus put Lavaca, Arkansas in the spotlight. Two months ago, students used the name of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks to demean a fellow student. Monday, students faced the issue of bullying head-on.
But with reconciliation came consequences. Five students are facing charges in the Lavaca Police Department’s investigation of the bus video. Two are charged with harassment. Three are charged with terroristic threatening along with the harassment.
Days after the incident Alyssa Shaw, a biracial 7th grader of Lavaca Middle School and the target viral bullying video, spoke to our station. At the time she wanted people to know that what happened isn’t okay and should not happen again.
“To see Lavaca Middle Schoolers do that act was disappointing,” said Lavaca High Senior Tyler Teague echoing Shaw’s sentiment after a district assembly Monday.
Teague said he is usually proud of his Lavaca Golden Arrows, but what happened on a school bus in February was far from the golden rule, and the district asked a group named after another civil rights pioneer for help.
“We couldn’t get here fast enough,” admitted DuShun Scarbrough, executive director of the Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission.
The commission organized an anti-bullying assembly for and with students to teach the principles of nonviolence, Dr. King’s legacy, and how to “step up and stop bullying.”
“All men can be brothers,” one cheerleader told her classmates. “Your voice is a powerful weapon,” urged a younger boy.
The response from the student body was incredible. Christina Ruggiero fully embraced the message.
“I had the courage to go up in front of everybody and apologize to her because I do want to be a better sister,” Ruggiero told our station.
She was one of dozens who raised their hands admitting to being bullied but also bullying others. It was a step toward reconciliation to drown out the mocking jeers of the past with the promise to be better from now on.
Tyler Teague said his message to students is to “Apologize to people those you’ve bullied and intervene.”