Transitioning to any new school environment can be tough. But it was especially tough for Abigail Hatfield, who moved from Williston to Iowa in 2015. At her new school in Iowa, she was bullied by classmates.
‘Am I going to come home and find my child dead now? Because today was the day they pushed her over the edge,” says Tamara Hatfield, Abigail’s mom.
Kenna Smith is a longtime friend of Abigail’s. When she found out about the bullying, she informed her teacher, Tracy Shirk, who reached out to Abigail’s mom. Shirk asked Hatfield if her students could become pen pals with Abigail.
“She was like absolutely and you can even share her story. And the kids were just not only receptive, but they’ve either been there or a family member’s been there and if they haven’t been there, they were all about what we talk about at our school which is faith and action,” says Shirk.
Abigail received the first letters around Christmastime.
“They were under the Christmas tree as my Christmas present. And I couldn’t stop crying because I never had that many friends before,” says Abigail.
Many of the students shared inspirational messages-
“I was writing that I cared about her. And that people care even though it doesn’t seem like it,” says Abigail’s friend, Smith.
Some even shared their own experiences of being bullied by classmates. In fact, in a 2016 study, one in five students aged 12 through 18 reported being bullied.
“We go from absolute isolation because of her situation to Miss Popularity,” says Hatfield.
And the students aren’t done surprising Abigail yet. They plan to give their new friend a school hoodie to wear.
Abigail was in town with her family this week and she was finally able to meet her pen pals.
One student described meeting Abigail as a privilege.
“These kids are amazing. What they did is amazing. They literally saved a life. And they needed to see that and they needed to know that. Their actions of good caused great things,” says Hatfield.
And though Abigail will leave Williston later this week to return to Iowa, her new friends are only a letter away.
Abigail is now being home schooled by her mom and says she is doing better.