Pink shirts legend grows
Valley students’ anti-bullying success reaches CBS, Spanish newspaper
By IAN FAIRCLOUGH Valley Bureau | 5:02 AM
CAMBRIDGE STATION — The story of two Nova Scotia boys who got more than 400 schoolmates to wear pink to support a bullied younger student has swept across North America and made its way to Europe.
Travis Price and David Shepherd, Grade 12 boys who organized a drive to back a new Grade 9 student who was harassed for wearing a pink shirt on the first day of school last week, have been deluged with e-mails and interview requests from near and far.
Their story was first published Thursday, and now the tale has reached well beyond the confines of their school, Central Kings Rural High.
CBS in New York came calling Friday, and the largest daily newspaper in Spain is picking up the story.
“I’ve talked more in the past couple of days than I have in my whole life,” Travis said.
Accolades continue to pour in. The story has hit Internet blogs and discussion groups across the continent and e-mails have come in from many parts of the U.S. as well as from Bermuda, Norway and Switzerland.
While Travis and David appreciate the recognition, “we don’t want to move the focus from the situation onto us,” said David, who is leaning toward joining the RCMP after high school.
“People say, ‘You’re celebrities, you’ll go down in the history books of the school,’ but that’s not what we set out to do.”
“People say you’re famous, heroes or celebrities,” added Travis, who plans to take criminology next year. “We’re not, we’re just two kids who stood up for a cause.”
He and David say they are responding to every e-mail they get. By Friday morning, they’d received 30 e-mails from around the world, and more had landed at The Chronicle Herald, asking that the messages of congratulation be passed along to the boys.
They’ve already been on two local TV stations, CBC and Annapolis Valley radio stations and a Montreal talk-radio station and have had an interview request from a station in Ontario.
Kings-Hants MP Scott Brison contacted them on Facebook and Premier Rodney MacDonald faxed a letter to the school.
People are joking that they’ll be on Oprah next.
“We’re not allowed to go on Oprah unless we take our mothers,” David said, laughing.
Because of the boy’s efforts, half of the school’s 830 students wore pink on a day of support for the bullied boy, whose name has not been released for privacy reasons.
Since then, “the response of the school community has just been enormous,” Travis said. “It makes me feel like we’ve done a really good thing.”
He and David, having been bullied themselves in the past, decided it was time someone stood up against bullying after six to 10 older kids harassed the younger boy last week for his choice of shirt colour.
E-mails sent to the Grade 12 duo directly or through the school have congratulated them, and some have related personal stories of bullying, Travis said.
Some e-mails to The Chronicle Herald were one-line responses, simply saying “awesome” or “very cool” or one of a host of other descriptions of the boys and their actions.
Nancy and Bill Curtis of Pennsylvania, who found the article on a website, wrote: “Kudos to you for this article . . . and (to) the kids!! Please tell them that I applaud them for what they did and the way they carried it out. Maturity and action together — what a combination!!”
Travis and David are writing a proposal to the Annapolis Valley regional school board for an elementary school program that would “talk about bullying and all the pain it can cause,” David said.
School principal Stephen Pearl, whom the boys are jokingly calling their agent because he has been handling so many interview requests and e-mails for them, said the basic message of all the calls and e-mails is “could you please pass along congratulations to the boys for standing up.”
“Others say it’s great to see a school where people stand up for each other,” Mr. Pearl said.
He said student councils from other schools in the province have been calling to get information to hold their own pink day.