Bullies give DeLaSalle student essay ammunition

| Tricia Lyngen for The Catholic Spirit | February 29, 2012 | 1 Comment

Semaj Moore, a junior at DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis, earned first place among more than 7,400 entries in the 2012 high school essay competition sponsored annually by the Maryknoll Society. Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

Semaj Moore, a junior at DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis, earned first place among more than 7,400 entries in the 2012 high school essay competition sponsored annually by the Maryknoll Society.

Moore’s essay entitled, “How Might Jesus Respond to Bullying,” is a deeply personal and faith-filled account about the bullying he endured in grade school and how he grew from that experience.

He recalled being singled out and ridiculed when he was just a third-grader. Moore soon learned that some of the teasing came because, “some children lead really bad lives at home.” His response was to try to understand and know the bullies.

“When you endure things like that [bullying], God gives you wisdom and empathy so you can treat others kindly without judging them,” he said. Moore now suspends his judgment of others. He said that if he notices others being picked on, he will offer advice, listen and encourage the person to try to understand the bully and even invite the bully to hang out.

“This takes a lot of strength and it’s scary,” he said. “But that’s what Jesus taught us to do. Being bullied has actually helped me become less judgmental of others.”

After completing his essay, Moore was hopeful, but not convinced that he would win. “I was honest and spoke from my heart about my faith and my experiences of being bullied,” he said.

Moore is hopeful that other students can learn from his essay, which will be published in the May/June issue of Maryknoll Magazine and then on the website, http://www.maryknollsociety.org. Winning the Bishop Patrick J. Byrne Award and $1,000 means a lot to Moore and his family members, many of whom attended the presentation ceremony with representatives from the Maryknoll Society Feb. 22 at the school, he said.

Teachers and classmates at DeLaSalle, say that Moore has an infectious smile and engaging personality that lights up the hallways with his warmth, compassion and optimism.

Moore and his family selected DeLaSalle  because he sensed that “the older students provide guidance and are very friendly and welcoming to the younger ones. It’s another family here, a school that would never tolerate bullies.”

DeLaSalle has also enhanced his faith life.

“On my own I read the Bible sometimes, but the teachers at De have helped me to dive deeper into my faith,” he said.

Moore said that writing the essay on bullying allowed him to draw on that faith, reflect on something difficult, and make sense of it to help others.

“Even Jesus did not understand that people could not care, could not understand, could not accept him. Yet, he said he came to love others. I could relate to Jesus more fully when I thought more about his response,” he said.

The one message Moore wants people to get from reading his essay is, “That you are not the only one [being bullied], you are not alone and that you can learn and grow from the experience.”

Tricia Lyngen teaches theology and Spanish at DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis.

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Category: Local News

  • Josh

    Great Job Semaj!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Josh