For almost three years, I have been a band geek. And I've been proud of it, believe me. I've played my first notes, I've performed in concerts, and I've had lots of fun with all the friends I made.
But the real reason I stuck to band was because of our ecstatic teacher, Mr. O. I never met a teacher like him before; bouncing with energy, never yelling, always trying to connect with his students. He truly understood his pupils, and took them all under his wing like family. For these past years, he has given me something to look forward to during school.
But on Monday, March 22, Mr. O did not come to school. Our substitute didn't conduct well, and our band sounded horrible. Tuesday, we watched a movie; Wednesday, we tried again. Rumors soon began to fly throughout the school; that he had surgery, that a relative died, even that he tried to harm one of his students. Someone was even so bold to say he was fired. Our substitute remained silent about the matter.
For three days, my friends and I worried about our beloved teacher. Was he okay? What was going on? I tried to tell myself that everything would be alright. I made myself believe that he just had some family matters to attend to. But no matter how hard I told myself these things, at the back of my mind, there was still doubt. Whispered rumors raced through our school, and soon everybody had their own story about what was going on. Still, I didn't know what to believe.
But on Thursday, a letter was given out, addressed to our parents. We were told not to open the letters, but teenagers just don't listen these days. Letters were torn open as soon as kids were let out.
At first I thought it was our report cards, but as soon as I stepped out of the classroom, I knew it was about Mr. O. Everybody was talking about it. Quickly, I made my way up the stairs, hearing snippets of conversations.
" . . . I don't know, some girl in . . ."
" . . . she told me first, she's in my science class . . ."
" . . . but he would never do that, I know it isn't true . . ."
Panicked, I ripped open my letter as soon as I reached my locker.
"What, you don't believe it?" The kid with a locker next to mine said, mocking me. I glared at him for an instant before scanning the page.
Sure enough, one rumor had been true.
The letter refused to give names, but I knew what teacher it was about; the one I loved best. Some girl had reported to our police department that Mr. O had tried to hurt her. The letter gave no details, and only said my amazing teacher was on administrative leave for "the safety of all parties involved".
I was devastated.
While making my way to the bus, more conversations were heard. The story had an immediate effect, and new rumors were spreading. Some kids said that he had only tried to kiss her; others claimed he really did rape her.
As kids began to file onto the bus, I was in disbelief. I told myself it couldn't be true; many other students seemed to think the same thing. I still believe that he did nothing wrong. I love my teacher; he acts like he's an eight year old. Nobody capable of being so happy could do something like that.
While the bus began to move, and my town blurred outside my window, I remembered.
Last year, I was very sick with pneumonia. I missed an entire week of school; my friends began to worry about me. The day I came back, Mr. O was glad to see me. He put a hand on my shoulder and asked me why I was gone. When I told him, he gave me a quick, almost fatherly hug and told me to feel better soon.
Hopefully, this girl had simply had that sort of event happen to her, and she had taken it the wrong way.
I got home and handed the letter to my mother; she was shocked, and, like me, in denial. I recalled hearing the girl's name said on the bus. We looked in the yearbook and found the girl that had started the entire thing. She didn't look popular, or goth, or any other label. She looked like a nice, hardworking girl that liked to have goofy sleepovers with her friends on the weekends. She looked like she would have the same morals I did; she looked like she could be one of my friends.
How could someone like this, someone that looked so confident and level-headed, assume such a terrible thing? How could someone that seemed that hardworking make something like this up?
I am still in denial, in shock, in disbelief. I am still a torrent of emotions. I still have no idea what's going on, but I do know one thing; I still stand by my teacher.
This is Keena, signing off.
Author's Note: Allegations of sexual abuse are very serious. We at Whyville do not know the full story of this particular situation. I'd like you all to use this article as a platform to talk about abuse. Please remain respectful in your discussions. If you have been the victim of sexual abuse, I encourage you to seek guidance from your parents, teachers, and local police force.