Olentangy Valley News

Miss America will visit OHS for bullying forum

High school students also will hear from teenage anti-bullying activist

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Even Miss America has to deal with bullies.

Nina Davuluri, who has faced harsh criticism of her Indian heritage since winning the 2014 crown in September, will share her story during a public forum at 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13, in the Olentangy High School auditorium.

She will host the event that's part of the 20-city "Are You an Ally ... #BeInclusive" tour sponsored by Abercrombie & Fitch.

Earlier in the day, 50 Olentangy High School students will attend a symposium that is part of tour at the retailer's New Albany headquarters. They'll hear from 17-year-old Cali Linstrom, who considered committing suicide after being relentlessly bullied.

Earlier this year, when Linstrom protested what she saw as bullying remarks made by A&F CEO Mike Jeffries, the company didn't just decide to sponsor her symposium -- it also created a diversity and inclusion department.

Todd Corley is the senior vice president of that department and the leader of Olentangy's diversity committee, which is sponsoring the forum.

District diversity committee coordinator Heather Cole said when Corley explained that OHS students could join the symposium, the committee "jumped on" the opportunity.

That's because it fits into multiple categories outlined in the committee's "Eight Drivers of Change" list, which includes student and community engagement, partnership opportunities and communication.

"Cali will be telling her story and that will be a big education piece," she said. "Sending that message to the students really can provide those personal connections and send the message that you're not alone."

But it's not just important to send students to hear from Linstrom, Cole said. It's necessary to get parents and residents involved in the bullying discussion along with the rest of the district.

"Before we can reduce bullying and harassment, we really need everyone -- the whole community and its partners -- to understand and identity what bullying is and how extensive it can be," she said. "It's not just teasing. It goes to another level and can happen on all different fronts."

Adding social media to the high school mix has made it even more important for parents to educate themselves on how to spot and react to bullying, Cole said.

During the one-hour evening forum, Davuluri will take questions from the audience, and a student who attended the morning symposium will share what he or she learned, including information on A&F's Diversity Wheel.

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