Photos: Lessons learned from the heart

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

On the verge of tears, Erica Gross, 22, from Green Island, tells of how she was bullied as a teenager. The session on cyberbullying took place Wednesday morning at Altamont’s Beacon of Hope Center, run by Ed Frank, a retired policeman who works to promote healthy choices. Gross said classmates — one of them who was supposed to be her best friend — drew stick figures of her and posted them online; she is currently in therapy and takes medication for depression.

Compelling tale: Students from Farnsworth Middle School wipe tears away as they listen to Erica Goss's story of bearing cyberbullying. 

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Sharing her pain: Bailey Wind, 18, a Shaker High School graduate who suffered in a much-publicized Northway accident in December 2012 that killed two of four teens in a car hit by a drunk driver, speaks to Farnsworth Middle school students on Wednesday about making good choices. She said she had been bullied because she was dating a Shenendehowa student; her boyfriend, Chris Stewart, was killed in the crash. Wind says she still has the texts and tweets she got from Shen students who resented her. Now a student at the University of Tennessee, Wind says she is respected for herself and not treated as an accident survivor.

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Hugs for her former student: Lori Rafferty, a Farnsworth Middle School health teacher, hugs Erica Gross as tears well in her eyes. Rafferty had taught Gross as a physical education teacher in Green Island when Gross was in elementary school there. She described Gross as a sweet, loving, caring and happy person. Later, in high school, Gross was hurt badly by bullying. Rafferty had brought her current eighth-grade Farnsworth students to the Beacon of Hope Center on Wednesday to learn from Gross’s experiences.

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