When I was little I always loved the Wizard of Oz and Annie and the Disney princesses and all of that stuff," said Ammie Jergenson, Defying Gravity essay writer.
"I really like the show Wicked," said Ammie, "even though I've never seen it."
So this determined La Crescent High School ninth grader, who has a love of music, decided to figure out a way to get herself to New York to see this Broadway musical about an outcasted wicked witch named Elphaba.
"Ammie had found on the Internet an anti-bullying contest," said Therese Przytarski. "It's a subject dear to her heart, and she just said, 'do you think that I could write an essay for this?'"
"She came to me and she said, 'mom what do you think my chance are?' I said, "Ammie just as good as anybody else's," said Sue. "Somebody's gonna win.'"
"She came back a day or two later and said, 'you know if I would win that I could get to see Wicked in New York.' That really got her going," said Przytarski.
Ammie didn't miss a beat. With the guidance of her English teacher, she decided to compete in the "Defying Gravity" essay contest hosted by BullyBust a campaign started in 2009 by The National School Climate Center.
"I really like that fact that it's dealing with bullying and stuff so I kind of wanted to try... give it a shot," said Ammie.
The words in Ammie's essay came easily, because bullying is a familiar issue for her.
"When I was younger, like Kindergarten or younger than that, there was this girl who at the pool sometimes she just would... she snapped my goggles back on my face once and would just kind of harass me and my best friend when we were there," said Ammie. "Sometimes at school."
And when Ammie was in grade school this bullying was intensified by the fact that she has Cerebral Palsy.
"I've always known I was different," said Ammie, "but I haven't felt it as badly as I know some people have."
Which is why Ammie wanted to talk about her experiences with bullies.
"Things and people will come along who don't want us to fly, and we just have to block them out," said Ammie. "The fact is, there will always be people like that, and we can never let them pull us down. We have to go on in our lives with, hope, happiness, strength and courage. If we would let those bullies get to us, we would never get anywhere in our lives."
"I read it the first time, and I thought this is really good," said Sue. "But the second time I read it, I was totally blown away by it."
Ammie was hoping the judges would be too.
"She kept saying, 'I didn't win. I know I didn't win.' She'd check the web site... there's nothing on there. Well, on December 7, which was my birthday and she told me she was gonna win this for my birthday, they called," said Sue. "I just freaked out."
"I didn't think I was going to win'" said Ammie. "So, this is really cool because I've wanted to go to New York for a long time."
This announcement was music to Ammie's ears along with the potential sounds of past bullies and bullying victims living in harmony.
"The message is you can do something about what's happening to you and make your life better, make the world better by writing about it as Ammie did or taking a stand," said Przytarski."
"In her essay, she said Elphaba defies gravity. I think Ammie can, too," said Sue. "I think... I'm going to get all teary-eyed now. Ammie can, too. And I think anybody can. They just need the support to do it."
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