Friday, 25 February 2011 00:00
Levittown Kiwanis members and other community members packed the club’s usual meeting to honor two middle school students who took an extraordinary stand to protect a younger schoolmate from a bully.
On Dec. 2, 2010, a seventh grade boy was bullying a sixth grader on the bus. When the bully began asking other students if he should start a fight with his sixth grade target, many of the other students became bystanders and ignored the bully’s threats. However, Barbara-Ann Reyman and Caitlin Harrs refused to sit back and become bystanders. They stepped up and told the bully to leave the sixth grader alone. They also told him that they were going to tell their parents and the staff at Wisdom Lane Middle School if he didn’t stop. The young ladies even stayed on the bus until they were sure that the bullying had stopped and the target was safe.
“We have all been horrified by the news reports depicting the tragic effects of bullying. We recall the shootings in Columbine, the suicide of Phoebe Prince and, closer to home, the incident involving the Mepham Football team,” began Kiwanis Service Leadership Chair Rich Santer.
After detailing the actions the girls took to protect their schoolmate Santer said, “Imagine if these ladies were in a middle school in Colorado in 1995 riding on the bus with Columbine shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Bennet Klebold, 17 high schoolers might have lived. Had girls with the courage of our honorees lived in South Hadley Massachusetts, Phoebe might have never hanged herself. We cannot say what tragedy these girls may have averted. We cannot say for certain if they saved a life. What we can say is: our honorees exhibit the best of our Kiwanis Family values. They stepped up to help others. They helped a child. Each of them chose the high road and stepped in to help someone in need.”
After inviting the girls to join Builders Club, Santer concluded by refocusing on the heroism of Barbara-Ann and Caitlin, telling the audience, “Webster’s Dictionary defines a hero as an individual who shows great courage.”
These young ladies certainly showed courage when they risked becoming a bully’s next target by standing up for a schoolmate on the bus.
“You are truly heroes in the eyes of the Levittown Kiwanis Club,” Santer told the girls as he presented their Everyday Hero medals.
The New York District Everyday Hero Medal was created by 2006-2007 Kiwanis Governor Joe Corace to recognize individuals who engage in heroic actions as part of their everyday lives. The program was so enthusiastically received that it has been extended each year following Joe’s term. Kiwanis Governor Corace also attended the meeting to congratulate Barbara-Ann and Caitlin.
After being pinned by Kiwanis President Ann Torcivia, Vice President Matt Walsh and Terrific Kids Co-Chair Andy Booth, Superintendent of Schools Herman Sirois and Board of Education members Mike Pappas and Kevin Regan congratulated the girls with a certificate from the school district.
The presentations concluded with Barbara-Ann and Caitlin receiving citations from the Town of Hempstead presented by Town Supervisor Kate Murray and Town Councilman Gary Hudes.
After some regular club business and the induction of the Levittown Library as a corporate member, Library Director Celeste Watman and Assistant Director Laura Hoffman were pinned.
The Happy Dollar Can exploded after being stuffed in recognition of Barbara-Ann’s and Caitlin’s act of heroism.