No bully zone

Throngs of Grand Haven High School students shined in yellow on Friday, honoring a fellow classmate no longer with them. Friday was the one-year anniversary of Zachary Kline's death. Zachary killed himself after being bullied, his parents - Juli and David Kline - had said.
Kyle Moroney
Apr 29, 2012

Zach was 17 and would have been a senior at the high school this year.

“It’s really sweet that they haven’t forgotten about Zach,” his mother said Friday.

A Facebook event page was created earlier this week, with more than 220 people committed to “going” — or wearing yellow in honor of Zach.

The yellow ribbon is dedicated to the prevention of youth suicide, according to www.yellowribbon.org.

“The message I am hoping to get across on this day — that it was a tragedy, we miss Zach, and we are there for our peers if they need us,” Kristin Spelde, the Facebook page creator, wrote on the page. “I think I speak for many people when I say that Grand Haven High School does not need to relive that day. We need to increase awareness and support for those who need us.”

“To do this was so sweet,” Juli Kline said of the students’ initiative to wear yellow in honor of her son. “I’m really proud of them for honoring him and not forgetting him.”

Spelde, a high school senior, knew Zach from his sophomore year biology class and the after-school Free Thinkers group. She nominated him last month as “most kind-hearted” for the senior mock elections.

“He was such a sweet, sweet guy — and we all miss him,” said Spelde, 18.

She estimated about a quarter to a third of GHHS students wore yellow to school on Friday.

“They do still remember him and they do still care about him,” Spelde said.

Zach's father said the tribute shows his son made an impact on his classmates.

“I think it’s awesome," David Kline said. "I’m glad they’re still remembering him a year later.”

A day before Friday’s one-year anniversary, David Kline received a letter from Zach — written when he was in eighth grade that was to be mailed just before high school graduation.

“It had all his hopes and dreams in there,” David said, adding that his son wanted to become a doctor. “He wanted to help people. … I was anxious to hear anything he had to say.”

At the end of the letter, Zach wrote: “Let the memories roll.”

“I hope this makes people more aware so kids treat each other kindly,” Juli Kline said. “And if you see someone bullying someone else, step up to the plate and say something.”

David planned to bring red roses — Zach’s favorite flower — to his gravesite on Friday. Juli planned to remember Zach with surrounding family members, she said.

Friends and classmates comforted Zach's sister, Christie, 15, with hugs during school on Friday.

"Seeing all the people in yellow today was really great," said Christie, a GHHS sophomore. "It was eye-opening. I didn't think that many people would show up wearing yellow."

Emily Twa is a senior at GHHS and a neighbor to the Kline family for the past seven years. Twa said she rode the bus to school with Zach, and she's been making sure he's not been forgotten.

"In honor of him, I made a sign saying, 'Please keep this seat open in memory of Zach Kline,' and taped it to the bus seat he sat in every day," Twa said. "It remained open through the morning route."
 

Comments

Max.L

That is really a sweet thing that these students did to remember their classmate. It is such a shame that bullying exists and hopefully kids all around the country will realize that there are better things to do with their time than bully people.

 

Bullies who are part of a ring are everywhere but sometimes people don't realize that this practice is even taking place and even the kids don't realize they are bullying sometimes.

MeanSmith

This is a great thing these kids did. Hopefully other kids will see the damage bullying can do to a community.

Araceli

Hoping that this movement spreads through out the nation. Bullying is never okay and the sooner we hold a zero tolerance policy for this kind of thing, the better.
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