Beyond the sad start to this story is an avalanche of love and kindness by high school teens who swooped in to lift up a much younger stranger, who was feeling down.
A sixth grader at a charter school in Westminster, Colorado, was depressed and disgusted with himself because almost no one would sign his class yearbook—a glossy book of photos sold to commemorate the school year.
Since he didn’t collect any notes from classmates beyond two teachers, the pre-teen wrote a note to himself in the pages: “Hope you make some more friends. — Brody Ridder.”
It broke his mother’s heart, so she posted a photo of his autograph to a Facebook group for parents at the school.
She was “overwhelmed with how much love and encouragement” she received from the parents—and some of them showed their kids, which hatched a plan in the minds of three grade 11 teens at the local high school.
Simone Lightfoot called the post “soul crushing,” after fellow student Logan South told him about it.
“We all just started planning that the next day we were going to go sign this kid’s yearbook,” South told a KDVR-TV Denver news team.
They rounded up a huge posse of friends, including Joanna Cooper—even though none of them had ever met the middle schooler or his family—and headed to The Academy of Charter Schools.
“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,” recalls Lightfoot. “And we’re like Brody! We’re here to sign your yearbook bud.”
They took turns writing in the book and when it was all done the pages had 100 entries, including long paragraphs with words of encouragement, advice—and even phone numbers.
Cooper wrote, “I know we don’t know you, but I know you are the coolest kid! If you ever need anything, call your senior friends!”
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And then, seeing Brody’s newfound popularity, everyone in his own class started signing the yearbook.
He may be skeptical that classmates who initially withheld their signature would become his friends next year, but now it doesn’t feel impossible.
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“It just made me feel better as a person… It just makes me feel better on the inside,” he said.
His mom is glad she tossed the first snowball that began the avalanche: “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.”
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