The Holy Cross High School family welcomed John Halligan to campus on Friday, February 23rd. Mr. Halligan and his wife, Kelly, lost their son, thirteen-year-old Ryan to suicide in 2003. Prior to his death, Ryan was bullied by his peers at school and on-line. Since then, Mr. Halligan has been instrumental in the passing of bully prevention legislature and has spoken to over one million students in more than 1800 schools throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and Columbia.
Mr. Halligan delivered a very personal and powerful presentation to the Holy Cross students about the events leading up to Ryan's death and the aftermath. A Q&A session followed the presentation.
"We were honored to have Ryan's Story at Holy Cross," said Catherine Xeller, Director of Guidance. "It was an exceptional presentation that hit home for many. Mr. Halligan's message was received beautifully and an excellent reminder to be kind to all."
"Mr. Halligan generously donated his time to speak with our students," said Terri Ann Parks, Director of Admissions. "Our students were extremely attentive to everything he had to say. They were very introspective about things. They thought about how they, close friends or siblings were or could be involved in a similar situation."
"You never know what someone is going through," said Grayson Henderson '18. "It is so important that you need to be nice to everyone. In cases like Ryan's, it could lead to drastic measures."
"Our students were reminded of the importance of speaking up for themselves or their peers in these situations," said Mrs. Parks. "Even if you aren't the one being bullied, you have the right to stick up for another student."
In memory of his son, Mr. Halligan spearheaded the Vermont Bully Prevention bill which was signed into law (ACT117) in May 2004. He also successfully led the passage of the law pertaining to mandatory suicide prevention education in public schools (ACT 114) in April 2006.
Mr. Halligan has been outspoken about the need for more education and prevention of bullying, cyber bullying and teen suicide throughout the United States, Canada, and Latin America. He and his wife Kelly have appeared on several national TV programs including Primetime with Diane Sawyer, PBS Frontline, and Oprah. Mr. Halligan also spoke at the United Nations Intolerance Seminar.