Message ‘opens eyes’ of FDA students

Published 9:01 am Saturday, September 17, 2011

On Thursday, Rebecca Ellis addressed 7th through 12th graders at Fort Dale Academy on how her son, Cole Ellis, committed suicide.

Students listened to how a family had to live and work through an experience that they will never forget.

David Brantley, headmaster of Fort Dale, said the school tries to bring in different people to speak to students about various subjects.

“We try to do various things that will be helpful to children,” Brantley said. “We sometimes have assemblies where we may have a talk about their spiritual lives, dangers of drugs, social media situations, and we just thought this was a wonderful opportunity that this lady has made available to us to come and speak.”

Ellis began with a slide show of pictures of her son, and began speaking to the group about what happened and how their family was affected.

Jenna Heartsill, a junior at Fort Dale, said the lecture opened her eyes.

“She did a really good job,” Heartsill said. “It was sad. There was a lot of impact on me. It made me realize it happens more, and it can happen to anybody.”

Along with addressing how her family was impacted by what happened, Ellis addressed the students on how to deal with social media and how to use it properly.

“She has a profound message that we think they need to hear,” Brantley said. “We’re about so much more than just math and English at our school, and we try to make sure that we address issues that children are faced with today. They have more challenges than any generation in history we’re trying to make programs available to them to deal with some of these challenges.”

Larry Harold, a sophomore at Fort Dale, said this assembly meant a lot to him and his fellow classmates.

“This is an issue that needs to be addressed, because it really needs to be talked about,” Harold said. “I’m glad we got together and we did this. I know there are people out there who do it, and this could change their life, and I hope it does.”

Brantley hoped that this lecture will teach students a thing or two about how to speak to one another as well as communicate on social media.

“I believe that the more information that they have about the dangers with text message and social media message the better decisions they will make,” Brantley said. “(I hope we) improve their decision making process in regard to social media.”