By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
The trauma many kids face in high school from cruel teenage high-jinx is an underrated psychological pain. Self-described “outcast” Whitney Kropp is a survivor, though. Kropp, who attends Ogemaw Heights High School, thought she had finally gained some social acceptance when she was unexpectedly elected as sophomore representative to the homecoming court. Sadly, her classmates in rural Michigan had played a cruel joke on her as they made it clear they sought only to embarrass the 16-year-old with the sham honor. Whitney spent the night in tears and even seriously considered suicide.”I’m like, ‘Wow, I feel like trash,'” Kropp said. “I feel like I’m a little thing that no one really cares about.”
Seeing her pain, Kropp’s family and her handful of friends joined together to support the teen. It was about this time that Whitney decided to make the best of her situation by embracing the job. The town embraced the job, too. Hearing about the prank, a local business stepped up to provide shoes and a gown. A salon in town donated the hair styling. A Facebook page written by her sister, Alivia, to tell the story garnered 96,000 “likes,” as well as a torrent of emails in support.
And with these simple expressions of love and empathy, Whitney Kropp began to find herself.
“It is absolutely awesome to see her stand up,” a beaming Bernice Kropp, mother of Whitney, said. “And it’s so cool to see e-mails … we’re getting from parents and other students from all over the place telling her stories and how it helped them and it touched them. My daughter is out there as an inspiration to a lot of people, and it’s a really cool thing.”
Whitney’s new-found celebrity came as even a surprise for her. “I thought before, ‘Oh, no one cares about me,”’ she said. “I thought not even my own brother and sister care. But they’re proving me they do care. The world is proving they do, well not really care about me, but they care about the situation. So I’m happy. I’m really honored.”
Last night, Whitney stood before the packed crowd at the high school football game, many dressed in Whitney’s favorite color — orange — to honor her. When asked about what advice she would give to other kids subjected to this kind of bullying embarrassment, Whitney said simply, “I would tell them to be brave.”
Grace under pressure? Hemingway would be proud.
~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger