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Student Voices Left Unheard

With the new documentary, "Mentor," incriminating Mentor High students and blackening the name of our school, have the students really had a chance to speak up?

Recently there has been talk of a new documentary called

Although this film may have been made with the good intentions of spreading awareness about the issue of bullying, it has left students upset and frustrated.

Instead of showing both sides of the story, this film focuses on the sensationalism created by only using lawyers and the parents of the bullying victims. It paints the students of Mentor High School as cold and heartless monsters, mercilessly preying on those with differences.

The trailer shows our football team and marching band, two groups very close to our hearts, and makes them look like they are the problem. Footage from a high school football game is skewed and played with a sobering version of our alma mater in the background, blackening one of Mentor High School's most spirited events. 

After seeing this trailer, I went through an array of emotions; sadness for the loss of fellow students, anger towards the director looking to tear apart our school and frustration at the fact that there was very little that we, as students, could do.

People were texting each other, posting on Facebook and tweeting about the injustice that this documentary brought up. Within minutes, any alumni of Mentor High or current student was posting about how proud they were to go to Mentor High School, despite the darkness that this director was looking to cast upon the school.

Just with the response we had to the trailor, it was made obvious that the students of Mentor High School are proud to be Cardinals. One of my fellow seniors at MHS, Ben Yanosko, spoke for many students when he said, "I would not be the person I am today without the great environment and the great people of Mentor, Ohio. One day I will raise my kids here. I love where I am from and no video will ever change that."

As strong as Mentor High can stand and as united as the students can be, our voices are not being heard. In the documentary, only one side is shown.

No information is given on Mentor High School's multiple tolerance and bullying prevention campaigns and some of the school hallway images are not even of MHS!

No opportunity is given to let the students of Mentor High speak for themselves.

As another fellow senior at Mentor High, Regis Coustillac, tweeted that "Jane Goodall did not just walk in the jungle and start saying stuff about chimps. She stayed there and got to know them. No one got to know us."

This feeling is one that many MHS students are experiencing right now, since we never got a chance to say what we believed or if we see a real bullying problem at school.

The issue is that this generation of students is being blamed for actions that happened before our time at MHS. As a senior under fire now, I was a little underclassman when Sladjana Vidovic tragically took her life.

Now I am being told that the people in my school, including me, are terrible people because of something that happened back in the days when I could barely even find my own classroom, let alone bully someone.

Now that Mentor High School has implemented bullying prevention and awarenss programs, I have not witnessed one incident of bullying; and the student to student respect has definitely increased.

The Mentor Schools cannot just be put to blame for the prevalence of bullying, though. Bullying occurs in every school, not just ours, and some of the drastic actions taken as a result of it may be preventable if parents and fellow students were also aware of the signs of depression and how to get someone help if they begin to show them.

Mentor High even has a program for suicide prevention and awareness, called Give a Hand Take a Hand (GAHTAH). The schools cannot be criminalized in the way that they are and the students cannot be shown as the heartless bullies that we are not.

Showing the images of student fans, athletes, and musicians at the Friday night football games is using our faces to try to show us as something we are not.

Mentor High Students show a level of school pride that is unsurpassable, even in the face of adversity. When everyone else is against us, the students of MHS band together and stand up for our alma mater.

Ronald Lucarelli, fellow senior and National Honor Society president said, "I am confident this is only going to make our students more motivated to show the critics how much our students love Mentor High and how many great things are taking place in our wonderful high school."

Once a Cardinal, Always a Cardinal -- and these cards will fight until our voice is heard.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Stacy March 30, 2012 at 12:10 AM
Thank you so much for writing this, Sarah!! As a former student government officer of MHS, I am so happy to see student leaders standing up against this kind of misrepresentation. Bullying is a terrible problem, and solutions need to be found. However, falsely making Mentor High the face of the problem only hurts the innocent people at Mentor High, and it hinders the effort of those who are working hard to remedy the epidemic issue. I was a student at Mentor high when three of the suicides happened, and I cannot begin to express how devastated we were...this documentary just adds more pain to the difficult memory.
Sarah- Class of 2011 March 30, 2012 at 01:06 AM
Sarah, I think you did I great job writing this article and I am glad to see that you are not going to the let the voice of the students of MHS go unheard. People need to realize that you can't beileve everything the media tells you. Until these people have walked in our shoes for 4 years at Mentor I really don't think they should be generalizing all the students here. I realize and acknowlegde that there is always going to be bullying. However, I think that Mentor does the best it can with the amount of students it has in providing students with outlets to express their feelings. There are many groups (such as GAHTAH, PRIDE, and others), counselers, a social worker, teachers, coaches, unit principles, principles, security guards, and police officers to go to to report bullying. I think that it is important to include these facts into the documentary as well. The fact that this producer shows clips of hallways that are not even from Mentor as well as playing our alma mater in a way that favors their purpose, shows that they are not willing to tell the whole truth. I hope people look at all the sides of the story before deciding the Mentor is such a horrible place because this is simply not the case.
Matt M April 02, 2012 at 06:57 PM
One thing I don't understand about all of this is why someone suddenly decided that this documentary needed to be made....several years after the worst of it all. And I certainly don't understand what sort of change the director expected would come of it. Did the director even go to Mentor? I didn't watch the documentary and I refuse to do so because I went to Mentor and know firsthand that there is nothing going on there that is more serious than your typical high school bullying. When you've got that many teenagers in one place for extended periods of time, there's no way to escape it. It happens in schools all over the country. I'd like to see these people (and any other critic) try to administer a school of over 2500 students and do a better job of it.
Becca April 23, 2012 at 02:43 PM
As a former resident and MHS grad, that community and school is a breeding ground for the most vile and animalistic citizens. Absolutely no acceptance for tolerance outside the norm. The problem of bullying in Mentor has been growing for generations and those who do not support continued efforts against it are either naive or a bully. It's going to take generations to fix the sort of damage Mentor has ingrained in itself.
Jennifer Morris May 17, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Hi, this is the production team from the documentary. We are returning to Mentor May 25th to May 29th for more interviews. Anyone that would like to speak on camera regarding this issue please contact me at jrubymorris@yahoo.com. Thanks.

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