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Letter To the Editor From A Former Ladue Cheerleader: 'Bullying Crushed My Spirit'

Missy Combs writes about bullying at the High School, including being on the infamous "Ladue List"

Hundreds of young women have been defamed by the "tradition" of 'the list' at . One of those victims is Margaret "Missy" Combs, LHWHS class of 2008. She is now about to graduate from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Here is her narrative of being bullied and humiliated during the end of her junior year at Ladue.

I love Ladue. I begged my parents to let me attend Ladue High School after going to an all-girl Catholic High School my freshman year. I cannot say enough good things about the quality education I received, and how well prepared academically I was for college. I am 22 years old, and currently a senior at the University of Missouri-Columbia. I am the daughter of two Ladue High School graduates, who can dispute the rumor that this is a "30-plus year tradition," because it did not occur when they went there. A more accurate description of this list would be a "10-year outrage."

I was a varsity football and competition cheerleader all throughout high school, and did not stay "under the radar" socially. Little did I know that would make me a prime target for being on the senior list at the end of my junior year.

I understand that you may initially not have very much sympathy, because the targeted individuals of the list are not your "typical" bullied victim. The amount of sensitivity and vulnerability an adolescent girl has is at its peak in high school. They hold on to every word that is uttered about them and take it to heart, especially by their peers.

I still remember exactly what was said about me, and although the words do not affect me now, they certainly crushed my spirit back then. I definitely have put behind and moved forward from the petty things that happened in high school, but when it was brought to my attention recently that the Senior List had been continuing years after I graduated, I was horrified.

It is even more alarming to me that this "bullying tradition" is still taking place after learning about tragedies of girls like Megan Meier and Phoebe Prince. It would be a preventable and devastating event if a Ladue student took such drastic measures after being bullied.

I’m not sure if it has changed, but when I went to Ladue High School, the Senior List was typically written by a group of senior boys about particular junior and sophomore girls. These seniors would annually drop it off on their last day of school to junior boys. When the bell rang at the end of the day, they would distribute the list in the heart of the institution, "the commons."

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I remember I was in my last class of the day in May 2007, and it didn’t even occur to me that it was the seniors' last day of school. My mind was more focused on cramming and remembering all the formulas for my math quiz about to take place. That’s when a tap on my shoulder by my friend, interrupted me and proceeded to tell me they had heard I was on the list.

My body immediately started to shake and tears swelled up in my eyes. I could barely read the print in my quiz, and it became unimportant to me. I was startled by my reaction and the overwhelming anxiety of wondering what was written about me.

I debated leaving school so I didn’t have to walk through the commons and watch my fellow peers laughing at my expense. I decided to stick it out and when the bell rang I walked through the commons to the scene of papers being passed out from person to person, eyes intensely studying the vulgarity.

Some people were roaring with laughter, others in silence with their jaws dropped. I grabbed one of the lists, and after reading it, I immediately took it to the administration office with a false hope that they would stop people from handing them out.

The reaction from the administration shocked me more than the list itself. I couldn’t believe how passive they were about it. The next day, I didn’t make the effort to go to school. I was still filled with a sick feeling that lingered inside thinking everyone hated me, and I felt unmotivated to face my peers.
 
I don’t want future girls at Ladue High School to feel uncomfortable and violated in their educational environment. If they are bullied, I don’t want them to experience the helplessness I felt when I took the list in confidence to multiple administrative figures, and nothing was done about it.
 
I’m not writing this in revenge, or to attack the creators of the 2007 senior list. My sole purpose is to let the administration at Ladue High School know that turning a blind eye to bullying is wrong! Protecting students from being harassed should be your top priority because no one should feel uncomfortable going to school.

Students should not be the ones responsible for ending this problem. The continuation of the list year after year is the direct result of teenagers not having consequences for their actions. Failing to protect students from being bullied is disrespectful to the victims, their parents, and alumni. I think it is admirable that a Ladue parent is taking the initiative to end this disgraceful tradition, when the administration has failed to do so. Lack of action will no longer be tolerated, because we love Ladue.
 
Missy Combs, Ladue High School Alumni 08’

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