PLAINVIEW, Minn. (KTTC)-Students at PEM High School gathered on Wednesday afternoon for an anti-bullying assembly. The program, which included skits, guest speakers and a memorial to victims of bullying, was presented by the school's anti-bullying and diversity group, PRISM.
Alexandra Ohm is a victim of bullying, but used her own experiences to help write the skits she performed with her classmates.
"I know because I've been there," said Ohm. "I go up there to raise awareness and try and get other people to actually pay attention and notice it more often than they do."
In the crowd, watching the scenes of teasing and harassment play out, sat Rick and Mary Ehmke. The Ehmke's were invited to speak at the event. Their 13-year-old daughter, Rachel, committed suicide last April after weeks of bullying.
"It takes everybody to get this message out and to keep it out," said Rick Ehmke. "Any chance I get to help kids who are putting in this kind of effort to change, I'm for it."
This is the first time Rick Ehmke and his wife, Mary, have spoken out publicly since their daughter's death.
"Some days you can hardly cope," said Mary Ehmke. "It's one day at a time and there's going to be a void in our life forever."
Rick and Mary Ehmke said they had second thoughts about coming to the assembly, but ultimately decided that sharing Rachel's story might help other teens. Rick Ehmke gave a speech about the day that changed his life.
"I simply had no idea she would take what little time I had available to clean up dinner dishes to take her beautiful life," said Ehmke. "To this day, I find it very hard to believe."
Rachel Ehmke, was a 7th grader at Kasson-Mantorville Middle School when she took her life. Her father's speech left many students reflecting on Rachel's story.
"She didn't deserve to die, she was younger than me," said Freshman Danielle Sherman. "She probably wanted to do good things for people, but they weren't doing good things for her. They bullied her for probably the stupidest reasons."
The Ehmke family has partnered with the Rochester Area Foundation to establish the Rachel Ehmke Memorial Foundation to support programs, like PEM's PRISM group, which work with youth to prevent bullying, teen suicide and other negative social trends among teens. Click here to learn more about the Rachel Ehmke Memorial Foundation.
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