WESTMINSTER, Colo. (KDVR) — It is the time of year when kids are signing each other’s yearbooks. But what happens when no one wants to sign yours?
That happened to Brody Ridder, a sixth grader at The Academy of Charter Schools in Westminster.
“I went up to people and I asked them can you sign my yearbook and some of them were like no,” he said.
He collected two or three names from classmates and two notes from his teachers. Brody said it made him feel “useless,” especially after a tough school year due to bullying.
“They just annoy me to the point where I cry at lunch and I just have to leave early and it’s getting on my nerves and recently they started getting physical and I don’t like it,” he said.
Since he did not collect many signatures, Brody wrote a yearbook note to himself: “Hope you make some more friends. — Brody Ridder.”
“It honestly broke my heart,” his mother Cassandra Ridder said. “And that was really hard to see and read as a mom.”
She snapped a photo and posted it to a Facebook group for parents at the school.
“I was overwhelmed with how much love and encouragement I received for Brody. It was amazing,” she said.
Other parents showed their children and the post made its way to three upperclassmen.
“It’s so fun having everyone sign your yearbook and for this kid to only have people sign their names in his yearbook, it’s just soul crushing,” Simone Lightfoot said.
Lightfoot found out about the empty yearbook post from fellow student Logan South, who said his family spent one to two hours discussing the issue and ways they could help.
“We all just started planning that the next day we were going to go sign this kid’s yearbook,” South said.
Another classmate, Joanna Cooper, planned to do the same thing.
“It was really heartbreaking to see people just sign their names like just the bare minimum,” Cooper said.
The soon-to-be seniors rounded up as many students as possible to sign Brody’s yearbook even though none of them had ever met the middle schooler.
“We walked in and we were like where’s Brody at? Is Brody Ridder in here? And they’re like yeah he’s in the back and we’re like Brody! We’re here to sign your yearbook bud,” Lightfoot said.
According to the teens, people were lining up to fill the void in Brody’s book. Some even played “rock, paper, scissors” to see who could sign first.
Many of the more than 100 signatures included paragraphs with words of encouragement, advice and even phone numbers.
“I wrote ‘Hey Brody, we don’t know you but we think you are super cool and I’ll be your senior friend,’” Lightfoot said.
The teens said they hope the small gesture inspires other kids to be kind.
“Always just be that gateway for people to feel welcome,” Cooper said.
“And then right after that, everyone in the class started signing my yearbook,” Brody said.
He said he is skeptical that the kids who initially refused their signature will become his friends next year. However, he said it doesn’t feel impossible either.
“It just made me feel better as a person. I don’t know how to explain it. It just makes me feel better on the inside,” he said.
“It made me feel like there’s hope for the school, there’s hope for humanity and there’s a lot of good kids in this world,” his mother said.