Essay Contest Winner: Sung Joon Park

Sung Joon Park
Demarest Middle School
New Jersey



Getting slammed into lockers, getting ridiculed in front of everyone, and being shunned are all common examples of bullying. These harsh actions can hurt someone’s feelings and leave a scar in their hearts forever. Bullying is a form of harassment or intimidation often used to hurt others intentionally. Bullying is an issue that can degrade one’s self esteem. In “Stargirl”, bullying is a main theme that shows up constantly. It shows how young people in high school experience many changes such as dealing with cliques, stressful schoolwork, and dealing with self-expression. By reading the book “Stargirl”, by Jerry Spinelli, readers are able to learn the valuable lesson of overcoming the hardships of bullying by seeing Stargirl defy her bullies.

The main character, Stargirl Caraway, is an eccentric girl who has been homeschooled for most of her life until her tenth grade high school year, and she doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of her peers.  She doesn’t dress like everyone else, and therefore is always an outcast wherever she goes.  She is a quirky and spontaneous girl who is always friendly no matter how mistreated she is, and even cheers for the opposing team in games. Because she is different from others, she is bullied. However, because Stargirl has a bright personality, she is able to overcome her bullies by not letting bother her.

I, myself, can relate to Stargirl because I was bullied. Everyone is bound to get bullied in one point in his/her life, although the severity of the action may vary. When I was in third grade, I was teased for the way I spoke. I came from Korea, so I had a slight accent and this was seen as different, so I was made fun of. I tried hard to get rid of my accent and practiced speaking like everyone else did. This reminded me of the part where Stargirl tries to change herself as Susan to please Leo. She comes to school one day dressed just like everybody else at school. Stargirl comes without her pet rat and her ukelele, but still, no one accepts her for who she becomes.

After getting bullied, I wondered about the reason why people bully. It is a terrible act that causes harm to another and does not benefit anyone. After pondering about this topic, I realized that the main reason why many people are bullied is because they are perceived as different. Then, I thought, ‘What is so wrong about being different?’ Everyone is different and the different qualities that we have define who we are. If everyone were the same, our world would be in black and white. Being different gives us color. Later on, I became proud of my accent and accepted my difference. Just as I realized that trying to be like everyone else was not beneficial to me, Stargirl realizes that being someone who she is not, was not worth it. While changing yourself for someone, might please that one person, it will not please yourself. Knowing this, Stargirl stops changing herself for Leo and goes back to the way she was before. Ultimately, Stargirl and I both drew the conclusion of being yourself, and I hope that everyone else can come to this conclusion as well.