About 60 years ago my grandparents left Sheffield because they feared their children were not getting the education they deserved. Eight years ago, my gram warned me not to move to Sheffield because the school was no good. I did not listen. About 30 years ago my mother and brother left Sheffield because they were tortured and tormented because they lived their life differently than others thought they should. Eight years ago my mom warned me not to move to Sheffield because people were cruel. Again, I did not listen. Turns out I should have.
We bought our house in Sheffield because it was close to Matt’s family and was the only house we could afford at the time. When we moved in our son had just turned one and we felt Sheffield was a nice community to raise children. As we were unpacking our U-Haul a neighbor we had not met came over to help when he saw us struggling. That man, John Donovan, helped us see what a beautiful town Sheffield could be and we felt we had made the right choice.
We made friends with our neighbors and we were able to feel the sense of community that we moved to Sheffield for. That feeling lasted maybe two years. Matt and I started working at the King George School and the talk of the wind turbines came into town. As this talk started circulating the town the sense of community was lost. The feeling of pure evil began lurking around every corner. Bad things began happening all around. The right to voice your opinion did not come without a cost. As soon as we spoke up with our beliefs we became known as one of the troublemakers.
The fact that we did not want to sit back and be fed the lies from the ones in charge we were unable to be a part of the community that we had moved into town for in the first place. Ignorance is nice for a while, but you cannot live your entire life being told what to do, how to think, how to vote, etc., etc., etc. The true sense of community was still there with the neighbors and friends who also did not buy into the crap they were being fed. Together, the real community members made big changes and helped all who needed help regardless of what they believed or how they voted, or what they said. The Sheffield Food Pantry was born and so many lives have been changed by the work of so many selfless people. That is the community that I was proud to be a part of.
As my son entered school he had a pretty enjoyable pre-school year. There were a few issues, but nothing major. His next year in school was a different story. His life was made a living Hell and nothing was done to keep him safe. Imagine a 5-year-old dreading going to school because he cannot be kept safe. WOW!
His next school year was even worse. The physical assaults started happening more frequently. Towards the end of the year the boy who had been responsible for the assaults threatened to kill my 5-year-old daughter and break my son’s arm if he said anything. Needless to say my son was scared and refused to go back to school. A meeting with the principal was had and my son was PROMISED that he would be kept safe and that if he went to go back to school he, at 7 years old, asked if he would be able to call us at any time that he felt unsafe – the answer was ‘yes.’ The reality was that he was not allowed to call us.
We sent our 7-year-old son to school with the belief that he would be safe. Minutes after he arrived at school Matt received a call stating that the boy had harmed our son, but the boy was going to be sent home and our son would be safe. Matt asked if he could pick our son up, he was told he would be fine once the other boy left. Hours later, at the end of the school day, Matt went to find our son – he was not in the hall waiting to be picked up and he was not in his classroom. Matt asked where he was and he was told he had gone to the principal’s office. Our son was terrified; he had to go to the bathroom but held it because he was too afraid to leave the room. He received a head injury at the hands of his attacker and what happened??? Our son, the victim, was placed in a dark room with an ice pack and when he asked to call us he was told ‘NO.’ The boy who caused the injury was left in the classroom and allowed to go to gym (the only reason our son went to school that day). My son was left ALONE in a DARK room for HOURS. He was the one who was punished in more than one way. He is the one with PTSD because of what he went through at SCHOOL.
We called the police and reported the attack after we brought our son to the emergency room. A threat of a riot was placed on Facebook and two days later as our children were outside playing we heard threats that our fence was going to be used to start a bonfire. Mere hours later we lost our home to a fire. Three fire investigators ruled that fire to not be suspicious. The evil had made its way to us yet again, this time helping free us from the depths of Hell that we had been living in for so long. There is always a silver lining to every cloud, sometimes you just have to get poured on before you see what is in store for you.
The town rallied together to help our family through the tough times and were very kind and thoughtful. When we had the choice to relocate it was a no-brainer. We could not pass up the gift that was given to us. Our children were given the chance to find a school where they could be safe everyday and not have to have butterflies in their bellies as we drove up 122. We miss many of the good friends and neighbors that we had but the ones who made our lives Hell outnumber those who we miss.
Greed. That is the route to all the evil that we witnessed in town. Integrity. A word that has been lost from the vocabulary of many, but one that is worth the fight to find. Stay strong. A lesson I have learned is always listen to your mother and grandmother, because their warnings came true; torment, torture and lack of education. My parting thought as I forever part ways with Sheffield: Read the short story ‘The Lottery’ by Shirley Jackson – that is the Sheffield I will remember until my last breath.
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