Reporting Esme Murphy
ST. PAUL (WCCO) – A St. Paul charter school has been busy campaigning to get Lady Gaga to visit and experience their anti-bullying message.
Avalon School is a public charter school that has become a refuge for students from all over the metro who have been bullied or ostracized at their old schools.
So, when the students and teachers heard that Lady Gaga was coming to the Xcel Energy Center, they knew they had to act. The students came up with a plan they hope will get Lady Gaga and her “Born This Way Bus” to stop at their school.
The school’s message of tolerance is one they want to share with the superstar who has championed an anti-bullying message
There are parts of Avalon school that look like any other school, but talk to students like Isaiah Ripley and its clear this school is different.
“I think I would have committed suicide sometime this year if I was never here,” said Ripley, who said he transferred to Avalon a year and a half ago after years of being bullied. “I was always called the derogatory term of gay.”
Ripley is one of several students who made a video on the school’s Facebook site, which highlights their anti-bullying messages and campaigns for Lady Gaga.
In one video, sophomore student says, “my name is Florin Gruen and I was my old school’s freak … Lady Gaga, I invite you to come to Avalon school to learn about the amazing things we do.”
Gruen is transgender and says she used to cut herself because she was bullied at other schools.
“I struggled with self-harm because I wasn’t able to be who I wanted to be and, you know, that really affects your learning experience,” said Gruen.
Anti-bullying messages decorate the walls at the school and students regularly read books with anti-bullying themes. Teachers say having a visit from Lady Gaga would reinforce why everyone at Avalon is special.
“Trying to get Lady Gaga here just to show the world that there are places where kids can fit in and be happy and get past those bullies and those demons in their lives,” said teacher Laura Connell.
Avalon is in its 11th year as a public charter school. It has 180 students in grades 7th and 12th. At the moment, there is a waiting list to get in.
WCCO-TV did reach out to Lady Gaga’s booking company and her foundation, but have not heard back.
Gaga performs Wednesday night at the Xcel energy center.