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Since I’m just meeting all of you for the first time, I want to tell you a story about being new—and how sometimes it’s fun and sometimes it isn’t.

Once there was a second grader named Paul. In September, he moved to a new town, had a new teacher and a new class and a brand-new desk. There was a boy sitting across from him with bright red hair, and his name was Ryan. He told Paul a knock-knock joke, and he was really funny—so that first day was a good day.

The second day, three other boys came up to Ryan and he thought, “Oh, great. They want to make friends with me too!” But that wasn’t what happened. They came up and started poking Paul, and even calling him names.

He looked at his friend Ryan. Ryan really didn’t want to hear what was going on, so what do you think he did? What would you do if you didn’t want to hear something that was going on?

Wait for kids to answer.

Well, what he did was this. Stick your fingers in your ears.

That second day wasn’t such a good day. But the next day was even worse, because the three boys came up to Paul at lunchtime, and they stole his lunch. He didn’t have anything to eat!

The next day, Paul didn’t come to school at all. The three boys were cheering that day because Paul wasn’t there. Then, even though he didn’t want to, Ryan heard them planning mean things they were going to do when Paul came back to school. But this time he didn’t stick his fingers in his ears. What do you think he did?

Wait for answers again.

That’s right, he told the teacher. And when Paul came back to school and there was recess, the three boys came around. But then, the teacher came around too.

And Ryan said,”C’mon, come play with me!” And that day was the best day of all, because that day, Paul and Ryan became best friends.

And so my hope for all of you this year is that, when you hear something you’d rather not hear, that you don’t stick your fingers in your ears. I hope that when you see or hear someone that needs your help, that this year, you find a way to stand up for someone who needs you.

The basis of this story is Becky Ray McCain’s Nobody Knew What To Do: A Story About Bullying, illustrated by Todd Leonardo, Albert Whitman & Company, 2001.

About the Author

Mandy Neff

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