We all remember growing up and being in high school, where most people end up falling into groups of like-minded individuals, and from there – they stick together. You’ve got your cool kids, jocks, smart people, the nerds, and the cheerleaders among others. However, this type of grouping while prevalent in high school starts early on in middle school where we can find bullying and making fun of others tracing back to even elementary.
We look to a 6th grader who was struggling to partake in one of the most memorable endings to a grade – getting his yearbook signed.
Brody Ridder, a 6th grader from The Academy of Charter Schools in Westminster was working to have others sign his yearbook. He gathered a few names from cohorts and two little notes from his teachers. Brody said it caused him to feel “useless,” particularly following an intense school year because of bullying.
“I went up to people and I asked them can you sign my yearbook and some of them were like no,” he continued. “They just annoy me to the point where I cry at lunch and I just have to leave early and it’s getting on my nerves and recently they started getting physical and I don’t like it.”
Because he was unable to gather numerous signatures, Brody wrote a yearbook note to himself: “Hope you make some more friends. — Brody Ridder.”
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That’s enough to crush the heart of any loving parent, and that’s exactly what happened to his mother, Cassandra Ridder.
“It honestly broke my heart, and that was really hard to see and read as a mom.”
That’s when she decided to take matters into her own hands. She snapped a photo of the note and posted it on a Facebook group for parents at the school. Other parents and guardians began showing their kids and the post eventually worked its way up to the eyes of three high schoolers.
“It’s so fun having everyone sign your yearbook and for this kid to only have people sign their names in his yearbook, it’s just soul crushing,” Simone Lightfoot said.
Lightfoot learned about the unfilled yearbook post from another student Logan South, who mentioned his family spent about two hours discussing the issue and ways they could swoop in and help.
“We all just started planning that the next day we were going to go sign this kid’s yearbook,” South said.
Joanna Cooper, another classmate said she intended to do the exact same thing.
“It was really heartbreaking to see people just sign their names like just the bare minimum,” she said.
When 6th grader Brody Ridder felt sad after only a few classmates signed his #yearbook over 100 #highschoolers came out to support Brody, signing his yearbook with notes of #encouragement and more💞 #ubuntu #thereisgood❤️@KDVR https://t.co/OkUxIjW8Ch
— Operation Kindness (@KindnessChamps) May 30, 2022
The high school students, who were due to be seniors soon, gathered as many students as they could for the single goal of signing Brody’s yearbook despite the fact that none of them had ever met him at any point.
“We walked in and we were like where’s Brody at? Is Brody Ridder in here? And they’re like yeah he’s in the back and we’re like Brody! We’re here to sign your yearbook bud,” Lightfoot said.
According to the teens, people were lining up just to sign Brody’s yearbook, everyone enthused, and some even playing paper-rock-scissors to see who’d get to sign first. There were over 100 signatures in the end, and they included heartfelt warm messages of encouragement and inspiring advice, some even including phone numbers.
“I wrote ‘Hey Brody, we don’t know you but we think you are super cool and I’ll be your senior friend,’” Lightfoot said.
The high schoolers said they trust the small gesture would inspire other children to be more thoughtful and kind.
Once all the signing was done by the high schoolers, everyone else in Brody’s class followed suit. However, he remains skeptical that they truly want to be friends with him next year, but he hasn’t given up hope either.
“It just made me feel better as a person. I don’t know how to explain it. It just makes me feel better on the inside,” he said.
As for his mother, she had only one thing to say: “It made me feel like there’s hope for the school, there’s hope for humanity and there’s a lot of good kids in this world.”