Remember the horrible murder of 15-year-old Larry King on Feb. 12, 2008 in his Oxnard classroom – shot in the back of the head execution-style by his 14 year old classmate Brandon McInerney? After two trials, McInerney pleaded guilty to second degree murder and voluntary manslaughter on November 21, 2011 and landed in prison for 21 years.
Frontiers editor Stephan Horbelt tracked down Larry’s teacher, Dawn Boldrin and asked her to write an essay for National Coming Out Day about her relationship with Larry and how the tragic events of that day four years ago galvanized a national grassroots anti-bullying movement and changed a her life forever. Here is an excerpt from that powerful essay, which you can read in full on FrontiersLA.com.
Today, National Coming Out Day, is an important day. It is important for everyone, whether you personally identify with the LGBT community or not. National Coming Out Day represents the feelings, emotions and overall, the support that we should be exuding on a daily basis. But for some reason, the world is cruel, and there are far too many people who do not take the time to understand the struggles of others.
This day means more to me now, as my life was changed on February 12, 2008, with the shooting of my former student, Larry King. I first met Larry in August of 2007. He was starting his eighth grade year and he was in my Literature and Composition class. The first week of school, Larry brought me roses from his garden—I hope—or whomever’s garden it was on the way to school. I don’t know if he did this for all his teachers, but he did it for me. Maybe it was because I was hugely pregnant, or maybe it was because he knew that somehow he could make a difference with the “meanest teacher on campus.” ….
February 12 is a day that I still haven’t been able to rationalize or heal from. It is, however, a day that has made me conscious of the fact that there is no room for error in the teaching of tolerance. We can no longer afford the idea or hope that someone else will take care of teaching tolerance if we can’t quite get to it. It is everyone’s duty to teach it, live it and extend it. It is not something we can hope to get a ‘C’ on; it is something we all must strive to get a ‘A’ on. I struggle every day with the realization that Anne Frank best put into words: “I simply can’t build my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery and death. I gradually see the world being turned into a wilderness; I hear the approaching thunder, which will destroy us too; I feel the suffering of millions; and yet if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again. … I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I shall be able to carry them out.”
I try to live every day according to that quote. I uphold my ideals, and do my best to be an example to my daughters in this belief, despite the hardships it has brought upon me. I lost my job and my sense of who I was, and perhaps most importantly, I lost faith in the good that people have inside them. But shortly after the shooting, two wonderful people came in to my life, and with one short email, I began to see that there is good in this world….
To read this essay in full, please click over to FrontiersLA.com.