BEDFORD-STUYVESANT, Brooklyn — The speech that 11-year-old Victor Garcia gave as salutatorian at his 6th grade graduation at the Excellence Boys Charter School in Brooklyn was anything but ordinary.
Most students would give a speech about how well their year went and would probably leave out some more controversial topics. This is not the path that Garcia took.
In his speech, Garcia outlined the bullying that he went through on almost a daily basis.
“I was spat on the face, stabbed on the hand with a pencil, cursed at and humiliated countless times,” Garcia said in his speech.
He also told the audience about the teachers and administration that were little to no help to him. Garcia recounted a story about when he went to a teacher about the bullying that was happening to him. He said that he explained his situation and the teacher told him to deal with it and that it was just a regular thing. Sometimes, Garcia said this teacher would just completely ignore him.
Grisel Garcia, Victor’s mother, was unsatisfied with this response. She was someone who pushed him to write his speech about the problems he was facing in school.
“This child has been bullied the whole year, been harassed and you do nothing,” Grisel Garcia said. “Well now he stands up for his rights.”
“I realized that I needed to stand up for myself and I did.” Victor Garcia explained to the audience. “I found a voice within me to stand up and stop these bullies. I got sent to the dean’s office a couple of times just for defending myself.”
This is not the end of the story.
That same teacher that told Garcia to “deal with” the bullying he was going through, stood next to him during the speech, reading over his shoulder and pointing at sections he suggested Victor eliminate.
“[He said] skip this paragraph, go here, skip this, go here,” explained Garcia. “It was probably to stop me from saying more.”
Garcia was able to give some touching final words in his speech to those who antagonized him.
“To the bullies, I tell you that if you search deep inside your heart, I’m sure you will find some good,” Garcia tearfully said. “We are all growing up and learning. Let’s give the best of ourselves so we can all be winners.
The day after our report aired a spokesman for the school contacted us to say, “Excellence Boys addressed every issue the student and family raised with us. “Excellence Boys is committed to creating a safe and caring environment for all of our students, and does not tolerate bullying. We teach all of our boys to show brotherhood and respect to one another.”