Be the reason. Be the voice | Teen Ink

Be the reason. Be the voice

November 10, 2022
By abbypotts, Conneautville, Pennsylvania
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abbypotts, Conneautville, Pennsylvania
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Author's note:

Be the reason.

When you wake up in the morning, you get ready for school. You brush your hair and put on clothes. Some girls put on makeup and some boys wear cologne. Either way, you don’t just pick up random clothes on the floor. Sometimes you do, if you are popular, if people are scared of you. Savannah is not popular. People are not scared of her. So yes, she tries to look nice for school. Sometimes Savannah tries “too hard”. How is it possible to do that? Sometimes she tries “too little”. There is no perfect. Jeans and a t-shirt? Too relaxed. Jeans and a tight shirt? What an attention seeker. Her leggings don’t sinch in her waist tight enough but at the same time, they sinch too much. Shorts? Thighs are too big. PJ pants? Don’t even get people started on how bad those look on her. She wears sweatpants and a tight-ish shirt to school. She goes to the office.

“I’m being bullied.” She says. 

“By?” Mrs. Janiston askes. She pulls out a notebook and pen.

“By- uh- Olivia and her group” 

“Go see Mrs. Elix.” Mrs. Janiston says. Savannah walks down the hall into the guidance room. Mrs. Elix had been notified Savannah was coming.

“They judge me for the way I dress. The way I look. Everything. They are always whispering and giggling. I can’t stand them” Savannah says as she sits down. Mrs. Elix is jotting it down in her book. “Sav, are you sure they are judging you? Or are the voices in your head judging you.” Mrs. Elix said. Savannah had never thought about it like that. She starred in the distance, then got up and left the room. Was she being bullied or was she bullying herself? Did the kids at school really care how her hair or leggings looked? Or was she too worried about herself? Maybe both. Maybe neither. Definitely both. Olivia was Savannah’s ex best friend. Olivia was popular now, and they made fun of Savannah.

“Awww,” Olivia said as Sav walked out the guidance room, “Was Saddy-Savvy mad? Poor thing.” Olivia said.

“My name isn’t Savvy. Now leave me alone Liv.” Savannah snapped back.

“Yeah I’ll leave you alone once you tell me what that outfit is! You are a joke-” Olivia started. Just then Mrs. Elix walked out of the room.

“Ladies, that's enough. Oliva, Maya, Kadence, please head back to class.” Mrs. Elix said sternly. Olivia and her friends frowned but headed back to class. Kadence was the last one to leave. 

“Sorry.” He whispered. Bystanders. Savannah hates them more than she hates the bullies. Why just sit there and not say anything? Speak up. She thought, then she remembered, she too, doesn’t speak up. Savannah turned away when Kadence said that. She had better things to worry about. Savannah has one best friend, Maddie. The two were ‘weirdos’ together. Maddie got bullied the most. Savannah would always stick up for her. That night, Savannah got home from school.

“Hey Sav!” Savannah’s mom said.

“Once you set your stuff down, we need to talk.” Her mom said. This can’t be good, Sav thought. She quickly set her stuff in her room and rushed downstairs.

“Your dad got a new job in LA, so we are moving there, and you are transferring schools.” Savannah’s eyes widened. This was great news. A brand new start!

“When are we moving?” She asked. Hopefully 2 weeks from now, so she had time to tell Maddie and pack her stuff.

“Tonight.” Her mom said. Sav stood there, dumbstruck. She rushed upstairs and called Maddie.


“Maddie! My dad got a new job in LA and I’m moving!”

“Oh. That’s great for you! When are you leaving?”

“That’s the issue.”


“I’m leaving tonight.” Just then the phone hung up. Savannah felt terrible, but she needed to pack. Later that evening Savannah and her parents were on their way to LA. They arrived at the new house. A big white house, The inside was very cozy, and Savannah’s room was huge. The house was pre-decorated, and Sav loved it. She had 1 week before her first day at her new school and for the first time in forever, Sav wanted to go back to school shopping. There was a lot she wanted to do actually. She wanted to dye her thick black hair blonde, get new shoes, and paint her nails. Luckily for her, Savannah’s dad was getting paid much more in LA and she could do all of that. The next day Savannah’s mom took her clothes shopping. Savannah got shirts of all sorts, leggings, jeans, but no sweat pants. She even got some dresses. She dyed her hair and it looked perfect. She got the coolest sneakers and dress shoes, and she even bought new makeup. Before she knew it, it was her first day of school. She walked into the building. She felt like all eyes were on her and not for a good reason. Nobody at school was dressed like her, instead, they were all wearing uniforms. Savannah’s mom must have forgotten to order it. A teacher walked up to her. Right in the middle of the hallway.

“You must be Savannah Ells, my name is Mrs. Jordan. We have a no-makeup policy, which includes your bad blush and mascara, and we have a dress code. Especially for outfits like that. Please follow me to the office.” Mrs. Jordan said, and everyone started laughing. As it turns out, Mrs. Jordan is the principal. She gave Savannah a uniform and a makeup wipe. Once Sav was cleaned up, she left the office. The second she walked out, 3 girls were waiting for her.

“Did you not read the policy? Even if we didn’t have a dress code, I wouldn't be caught dead in that outfit. What were those jeans? Oh by the way, my name is Lilli, and these are my girls, Jenny and June.” Lilli said.

“Leave me alone, it’s only my first day after all.” Savannah said. Then she walked to class, or tried to. She showed up 10 minutes late because she couldn’t find it. Once she walked in, once again, all eyes on her. Everyone recognized her from the hallway incident.

“Welcome! I normally don’t tolerate being late but it’s ok because you’re new! My name is Professor Docks and this is ELA class! Everyone say hi to Savannah!” Professor Docks announced.

“We already know her.” Lilli said. The class started laughing again. Savannah took her seat.

“Alright class, as I was saying, Poem Party is 3 weeks from now. This year is different from the last few. The news channel is coming in and I am choosing 3 people to present their poems to the whole world!” Professor Docks said. Savannah wanted to be a part of this. At the end of class Professor Docks handed out the paper they would be writing their poems on and Savannah put it in her bag.

“Hi! My name is Natalie! You can call me Nat. I thought your outfit was really cool today. Don’t listen to Lilli.” Natalie said. A friend. Savannah thought.

“Thank you! What classes do you have next?” Sav asked. The 2 had all the same classes together and now Savannah had someone to show her around. The rest of the classes went by pretty okay. Minus a few comments from Lilli, Jenny, and June. She got some weird stares as well but nobody was really bothering her.

Natalie. She was the laughing stock of the entire school. One time in second grade she jumped off the swings and broke her arm after telling everyone she could land a backflip. Ever since then it all went downhill. Now there was a new girl. Savannah. Natalie watched what happened in the hallway and Mrs. Jordan was totally wrong for calling her out like that. Natalie wasn’t the only one who watched though. Lilli. Jenny. June. Nat wondered what they thought of her. Besides for the comments about her outfit before she got her uniform, Nat thought they didn’t have an issue with her. Which made Natalie still the laughing stock of the school. The moment after the hallway incident happened, Natalie practically ran to go see Lilli.

“What a total dork. Am I right Lilli?” Natalie said.

“Yeah, you’re right. Just like you are a dork. I bet you guys would be great friends.” Lilli said back. Natalie frowned, then replied,

“ Friends with her? No way! What I did, was in second grade, and i’ll admit, it was dumb. But that outfit? It was ridiculous. I would never wear something like that.I’ve changed.” Natalie knew she would definitely wear that exact outfit.

“Yeah I guess you are a little less lame. Wait why am I even talking to you. Come on girls let's get away from this freak- actually, she’s a little less freakish, still, let’s go.” Lilli said. The 3 girls walked away. June was the last to follow. She stomped on Natalie’s foot.

“Listen Natalie, don’t try to take me or Jenny’s place. You will always be a loser.” June said.

“I’ll do what I want.” Natalie snapped back. Then she turned and walked away. She thought back to what Lilli said. About her and Savannah being friends. She had an idea. She could be friends with Savannah, then she could embarrass her in front of the whole school! That would take all of the attention off of herself! But how would she embarrass her? She knew people had to know that she was the one who embarasses Sav. Just think. Natalie was the one who did it! Everyone knew Sav was a loser and Nat really proved it!. Natalie thought to herself. And Lilli, Jenny, and June. They would all love her and make her a part of their group. After ELA Natalie became friends with Savannah. Sav was actually normal and Natalie would be friends with her if she wasn’t a weirdo herself. Now for the plan.

“Hey Savannah! Remember that poem contest Professor Docks was talking about last week? I was thinking, you should do it!” Natalie said. 

“Well I don’t know. I don’t love the thought of performing in front of a news channel.” Savannah said. Natalie thought for a moment then replied,

“There is a cash prize though! And I can read it and give you credit for the writing! I know exactly what it should be about, the zoo! Everyone loves zoo animals, don’t you think?” All of that was a total lie, but Nat was willing to do whatever it took.

“Zoo? I think that would be embarrassing. But if you say it won’t be then i’ll give it a shot!” Savannah said. She was just happy that Natalie would be the one reading it. Natalie smiled. Perfect. Her plan was to be “sick” on the day the poem was due. Then Savannah would have to read it. Her face would be red and sweating and her poem would stink. Natalie would then laugh at her and say that a poem about zoo animals was a childish idea. Savannah had 2 weeks to plan this zoo poem, and while she was planning, Nat was writing in her secret journal. (aka diary) but she doesn’t like to call it that.

“ Dear journal/diary,

The plan is falling in place. Savannah is writing that stupid zoo animal poem and Professor Docks has agreed to let us be one of the people to read their poem to the news crew.  I sat in front of his desk, and saw a paper that said we will be doing it in front of the whole school as an assembly. I haven’t told Savannah that yet and I don’t plan on it. I’m planning to have really bad allergies that day. Fake sneezing is really hard though. What about a really bad cough? That sounds easier. Ok well Savannah is coming now. I think she has her poem ready. She’s coming to my house today so we can practice reading it. Bye!” Natalie shut her book and put it in her book bag. Savannah walked up to her.

“I’ve got the poem done. Are you sure this won’t be, like, totally embarrassing?” Savannah asked. She didn’t know hardly any of the kids to know their interest so she was just trusting whatever Natalie said.

“Trust me, everyone here loves zoo animals, I promise it’s not childish at all.” Nat said.

“I never said anything about it being childish, I asked if it was embarrassing.” Savannah said, slighting confused.

“Oh same difference! Read it to me!”

“Oh boy,

Savannah saw a lion roar,

Nat saw an eagle soar!

Savannah saw penguin swim,

Nat saw a monkey grin!

Savannah saw an elephant sleep,

Nat saw a tiger leap!

Savannah saw a wolf pounce,

Nat saw a kangaroo bounce!

A big polar bear weighed a ton,

It sat on Savannah in the sun!

A cheetah was fast yes it could run

And Nat had a lot of fun.” Savannah read. It was a terrible poem. 

“It is a great poem!” Natalie said.  “Give it to me, I'll practice it tonight, you don’t even have to come over!” She said, She grabbed the poem and practically ran away. As she was running a book fell out of her bookbag. Savannah picked it up and the book read, “Journal”. She almost yelled out for Natalie to come back. She thought to herself, the journal had to have fallen out for some reason. It’s like it wanted her to read it. She quickly placed the journal in her bag. Then she went to class. She kept thinking about her poem. There was no way the kids would like that. At least she wasn’t going to have read it, Nat was a good friend. She thought. When she got home that night she opened the journal. She read about the second grade arm incident. Why would kids bully her for something that happened so long ago? Natalie never acted like she got bullied. After the hallway incident on the first day, she caught Nat talking to Lilli. Weren’t they friends? Savannah flipped through a few pages. She got to the page about the poem. She carefully read everything. She planned on dropping out of the contest. There was no cash prize. She would have to read it in front of the whole school. Natalie wasn’t even a real friend. Nobody at school likes zoo animals. Savannah knew what she had to do. She had to make a new poem. She knew exactly what she was making it about and she had a little less than 2 weeks to do it. The next day at school Savannah put the journal on Natalies desk before Natalie got to class. Natalie quickly hid it in her bag and smiled at Savannah. Sav smiled back, or tried to. She still couldn’t believe Nat would betray her like this. Maddie would never do something this low. Maddie. Savannah still hadn’t heard from her since the last call. She hoped she was doing okay without her. Savannah needed to build up the courage to call her. One week before the Poem Party, Savannah tried to call Maddie. Maddie answered.

“Savannah! I’m so sorry for not calling you back!” Maddie said.

“It’s ok! I’m sorry too. How is everything with Lilli- I mean Olivia.” Savannah said. She didn’t want Maddie to know she was having her own problems.

“It’s okay. Olivia has been leaving me alone for awhile. She’s said a few snarky comments but nothing too bad. Who’s Lilli? You accidentally said her name instead of Olivia. Is someone bothering you there?” Maddie asked.

“No no no! Lilli is one of my best friends! Everything here is perfect.” Savannah lied. She wanted to tell Maddie about the poem, but she got too worried. She felt like Maddie had enough issues of her own, she didn’t need her to worry about Sav. The 2 girls talked and Sav told her about how they wore uniforms in LA. She didn’t mention that she didn’t know that until she got there. Savannah was happy to be talking to her best friend again. Her true best friend. The competition was arriving soon and Savannah had her poem ready. 2 more days. Natalie kept telling Savannah her poem was perfect and that everyone would love it. Sav would have believed it, if she didn’t read the diary. Savannah tried her best to act normal around Nat but it was very difficult. After all, she planned on ruining the rest of her school experience for the next 4 years. Sav read about Nat's broken arm. She knew how long these kids could hold a grudge. Savannah was nervous to read her poem. She wished she had an actual friend to practice it with. She wanted to call Maddie and read her the poem but then Maddie would know something was wrong at school and Savannah didn’t want that. Savannah and Natalie were in ELA class.

“Alright students, as you know the Poem Party is in 2 days! Our people presenting are Nick Smith, Chloe Roberston, and Savannah Ells! I'm so proud you guys are willing to read this in front of the whole school at the assembly and everyone who is watching the news!” Professor Docks said with a smile.

“The whole school?” Chloe and Nick said together. Professor Docks hadn’t mentioned that yet. Savannah knew the only way Nat knew was because Professor Docks must have left the paper on his desk. Natalie sits right in front of his desk.

“Oh did I not announce yet? There will be an assembly for it! Oh yes I suppose the papers are still right here on my desk!” He said.

“I’m dropping out!” Chloe said. She got up and threw her poem in the trash.

“Me too.” Nick said. He did the same as Chloe.

“Oh no! Savannah, please don’t drop out! You are our only chance!” Professor Docks said with a worried look on his face. Savannah looked back at Natalie. She too, had a worried look on her face.

“Sav, don’t quit! I believe you can read this in front of everyone! You got this!” Natalie whispered.

“You’re the one reading it. Remember?” Savannah asked.

“Oh yeah right. I completely forgot. We got this!” Natalie quickly said.

“Girls,” Professor Docks started, “What’s the plan?” He asked.

“We are staying in.” Savannah said. More like she was staying in. Not Natalie. Natalie relaxed in her seat. Perfect. Everything was going as planned, or so she thought.

1 more day. Poem Party was the only day the kids didn’t have to wear their uniforms. Savannah picked out her outfit. She was wearing black leggings and an oversized gray shirt with some vintage zoo animals on it. Just for the effect. She called Natalie that night.

“What are you wearing tomorrow?” Savannah asked.

“Jeans and my ‘I love Pandas’ shirt.What about you?” Natalie asked. She was excited for a response.

“Black legging and a vintage t-shirt with zoo animals on it. I’m also curling my hair.” Savannah said. All of this was true. Savannah also called Maddie.

“Maddie! The Poem Party is tomorrow!” Savannah said excitedly.

“Yeah! Our school is having an assembly and we are watching you guys on the news! We plan on doing it next year if all goes well for you guys! How many people are presenting?” Maddie asked.

“It’s just me. The other 2 dropped out.” Savannah said. She was nervous. If Maddie’s school was watching the news, who else was. 

“Oh wow! Good luck Savvs! I think you’ll do great. What’s your poem about?” Maddie asked.

“It’s a surprise. I have to go shower now. Bye Maddie” Savannah said. She hung up before Maddie could beg for her to tell her her poem. It was the next day. The news crew was already in the school when Savannah and Natalie arrived. The Poem Party was taking place at 11:30. Natalie walked up to Savannah.

“Hey girl! I can’t wait to present our poem! I’m so happy we are the only ones presenting!” Natalie said. Savannah was so sick of playing along with her.

“Yup! See you then!” Savannah quickly walked away.

“I was thinking we could walk to all of our classes together-” Natalie started. Savannah had already walked away. Natalie could tell Sav wasn’t acting herself. She figured she was just nervous. The 2 girls walked into ELA.

“Hello ladies! Good luck today at the assembly. Speaking of which, it’s time to head down there!” Professor Docks said. The class walked down to the assembly. Savannah almost died when she saw Lilli standing backstage.

“Hey Savannah and Nat! I’m presenting a poem too! Good luck failing to me girlies!” Lilli said. Just then, an announcer came over the loudspeaker. 

“Welcome to LA News Now! I am your host, Kamdon Jennings, and today we are taking a peek inside LA High. This school is presenting Poem Party. Poem Party is where the kids present poems in an assembly. We have 15 other schools watching us live, right now. Starting up, Lilli Williams, please read your poem.” Kamdon said. Lilli stepped on the stage. The kids in the stands cheered excitedly. Especially Jenny and June.

“Roses are red

Violets are blue

I am the best

Not you.” Lilli said. Everyone was cheering crazily. Kamdon was talking about how great Lilli’s poem was when something bad happened backstage.

“ Oh no! I’m too sick *cough* *cough* to read this poem! Please *cough* read it Sav!” Natalie said. Savannah sighed. She didn’t even say anything about how bad Natalie’s acting was. Instead she walked out onto the stage.

“Next up, Savannah Ells and Natalie Cameron!” Kamdon announced. Everyone in the stands was silent. 

“Natalie won’t be joining me today. She backed out.” Savannah said.

“I didn’t back out! I have a cough! *cough*” Natalie yelled. She was very upset.

“Okay ladies calm down! It’s officially too late to back out, no matter what. Good luck Savannah Ells!” He said. Savannah looked at everyone. Lilli’s evil smirk, Jenny and June’s frightened smirks. They were too scared of Lilli. Savannah looked at Natalie’s angry face. She watched Natalie’s anger turn into an evil grin. Then Savannah looked up at the camera.

“This poem goes out to all of the bullies. Lilli, Jenny, June, Olivia, Maya, Kadence, and Natalie. But especially myself. I’m so sick of thinking what I wear is too much or too little. It’s fine. I’m so sick of hiding my personality because I think you guys don’t like it. Are my leggings really an issue or am I too worried about myself? This poem also goes out to all the bystanders. They too, are bullies. Let’s do this.” Savannah said. Everyone looked at her. Their faces were all red. Especially Natalies. Back at home, Olivia and her group were also completely red. Maddie was watching with the biggest smile on her face.

“I’m sick, but I think you know that already.


You call me evil but how would you know it unless you live it already. 

You think you’re better right? Cause nobody’s seen what you’ve done in the dark

but if I put your life in this light you would crumble and fight to survive. 

But please I knew that already. I’m not special. But i specialize in making you feel


especially stupid for judging a human while you sit at home on the couch and don’t 

watch what you do.


You follow and hate all of my moves. 

I’m not complaining but I know that people who do are sicker than me and I’m sick


enough to be standing here reading this.

But my bad, I forgot you were fragile

I forgot someone who doesn't even know me told you I'm worth nothing

I forgot that I'm a villain

I forgot that I've always spread positivity, but you think I didn't

I forgot that hatred stems from people who hate their own existence

I forgot I'm better off alone

I forgot I care for everyone's happiness, but forget about my own

I forgot I spend every waking second on my phone-

Come join my circus, I'm recruiting

I'm taking everyone who passes judgment

Ladies, that's including everyone who thinks it's so amusing

To put me down while I'm pursuing

The keyboard warriors that live online

Behind a screen that's just an illusion

So come,  join my circus”Savannah said. Everyone sat there in silence. Lilli, Jenny, June, Natalie, Olivia, Maya, and Kadence all had their faces to the floor. Maddie started clapping. Other kids in the classroom started clapping. Kamdon himself started clapping at the assembly and everyone else joined him. Soon everyone was standing up cheering. Then Mrs. Jordan came on stage.

“That’s enough everyone. The poem wasn’t spectacular alright? It was just a girl complaining.” Mrs. Jordon said. She was never fond of Savannah. Nobody knew why. Lilli, Jenny, June, and Natalie peeked their heads up when she said that.

“No,” Lilli started, “Her poem was great. Savannah I am so sorry for making you feel like you don’t belong here. I bet Oliva, Maya, and Kadence feel the same way whoever they are. It was rude of Mrs. Jordon to call your makeup out like that on the first day. She’s always been that way. If we aren’t perfect then we aren’t accepted.” Lilli said. Natalie then added,

“I’m also sorry. I didn’t want Lilli and her group to hate me, so I thought if I made you the laughing stock of the school then the attention would be taken off of me.” Mrs. Jordon got up and left the room.

“Wait!” Savannah yelled after Mrs. Jordan. “Mrs. Jordan, I believe you owe me, and everyone else, a huge apology.”

“Okay. I’m sorry everyone. Savannah, I should’ve never treated you poorly on the first day. Lilli, I shouldn’t hold my expectations so high for you. I’m sorry.” Mrs. Jordan went around apologizing. Later that evening Savannah was in her room. Lots of people on social media were thanking her for being so brave. Olivia and her group also privately messaged her and apologized. Maddie was overjoyed with it all, constantly praising Sav.

  All it takes is one voice to make it stop. Whether it’s presenting in front of a school, or making a post on social media, or even just confronting the bully! Sometimes, teachers won’t always be there for you. Sometimes you have to get things done your own way. But in the end, be the reason. Be the voice.

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