CANON CITY – “We want change! We want change! We want change!”
Chants like this could be heard in the area surrounding Canon City High School as students took action on Friday to stop bullying. Instead of attending school, dozens of kids gathered outside the building for an all-day rally.
As News 5 learned, it was in response to a recent suicide. It was last Wednesday when Canon City got word that sophomore Tyler Lopez had passed away and some fellow students believe bullying is what led to his death.
The goal of Friday’s rally: to get the attention of the community, but specifically the school, and let people know that something needs to change to prevent another tragedy from happening.
Tyler Lopez’s cousin, Aryana Waldron, said, “A lot of these kids are skipping school to be here. We’ve been here all day.”
Kenzie Haynes, a junior at the rally, said, “Not the classic like pushing, shoving stuff happens a lot, but…they make it a point…you don’t fit in and you’ll never be good enough.”
Senior Tailer Dunsmoor said, “Kids are tormented every day and it is something that could possibly end somebody’s life.”
Referring to Tyler, Waldron said, “There was a lot of kids making fun of him because he was special needs.”
After learning of Tyler’s death, Haynes “wanted to see the school take action and…realize that there’s a lot of kids that are getting bullied out here and they don’t do anything about it.”
Waldron said, “Our goal is that Canon City High School will take awareness into the bullying instead of trying to cover it.”
Principal Bill Summers said he acknowledges that bullying is a national problem and that Canon City isn’t immune to it.
“We have our bullying issues. We work those very diligently and we’ve put some programs into place this year in particular to really help students help other students with that…we’re looking at cutting-edge across the state and seeing who’s doing what, and who’s having good impacts.”
In regards to Tyler, local law enforcement and the school district investigated allegations of bullying. They said at this time no connection has been made to his death.
Summers said, “For us to take any action we have to have specific information and I can tell you that we didn’t have any of that to act on…that’s the hard part.”
As the community deals with this loss, people like Rachael Murphy are trying to bring some light to the darkness.
“This Friday we wore hats…for a minimum of $2…hats because Tyler’s favorite thing to wear was hats.”
She said $850 was raised and that it will be donated to a suicide awareness foundation in honor of Tyler.
The Cañon City Police Department and the school district will continue to investigate any
allegations of bullying. They encourage students and parents to report suspected bullying incidents to the police department or the school district.
Reports can also be made at Safe2Tell at 1-877-542-7233.