Meet the Houston County freshman who used her own money to publish anti-bullying book

Sara Starcher, a ninth-grader at Houston County High School, recently wrote, illustrated and published “Angel’s Tribute” — a book with an anti-bullying message.

Sara, a Girl Scout, wrote the book to earn the Silver Award, the highest award attainable for Girl Scout Cadettes, and to help kids who have been bullied.

“The main message from the book that I wanted to get across to readers was, hopefully, they would stand up for themselves, and if they were not directly being bullied, they could stand up for others that are going through bullying,” she said.

Between one in four and one in three U.S. students say they have been bullied at school and most bullying happens in middle school, according to stopbullying.gov.

Like other school systems, Houston County has a policy on bullying and ways to address it. Even so, bullying still happens.

Sara said she was bullied herself once when she was in the fourth-grade.

One scene in the book is drawn from that experience. She was in a school restroom and overheard some other students talking badly about her. She didn’t tell anyone, but kept the hurt bottled up inside.

She wanted her book to reach third-and-fourth graders.

To earn the Girl Scout’s Silver Award, Sara had to select a public issue and put in place a sustainable project that works toward positive change, according to a Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia news release.

Sara will receive the Silver Award pin in a few weeks and will be formally recognized at a Girl Scouts awards ceremony in May, Shannon Bryant, a Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia spokeswoman, said in email.

“Bullying is a big problem, especially in schools around the country, and a lot of kids, they decide that ... if they just ignore the problem, that it will just go away,” Sara said. “But sadly, it doesn’t.”

From Aug. 13 through Sept. 11, Sara donated copies of her book to some schools and to the Houston County Board of Education to be placed in other primary and elementary schools. She also gave her book to the Houston County library system, the Houston Medical Center and the Rainbow House Children’s Resource Center.

Sara also spoke to students about bullying at some of the schools where she donated her book.

“I would tell them to stand up for themselves because it isn’t right on how they are being treated,” she said when asked what advice she would offer. “Every person deserves to be treated well and with respect.”

She started writing the book when she was 13. The book was published over the summer.

“I always had a little bit of a knack for writing, whether or not it was actually out on paper or just in my mind,” Sara said. “I always loved to play when I was little and just create story lines with all my little dolls and my stuffed animals, so I sort of drew from that.

“I had amazing writing teachers who actually helped me grow in writing, and in eighth grade, they actually started a writing club at my school. When I joined that, that’s when I had the time to write and expand on my writing,” she said.

Sara used money from yard sales, babysitting and such to pay for the book’s publication.

About the book

“Angel’s Tribute” traces the story of Rye, a young girl bullied by two of her former best friends after they’re accepted into a school honor’s program and Rye is not.

“I felt myself shrink in my green jacket; the autumn wind wasn’t why,” Sara read from the first chapter of her book for The Telegraph. “I dreaded going back to another eight hours of name calling and teasing. I just couldn’t stand it.”

In the book, Angel is a new girl who moves to Rye’s school in the midst of Rye’s three-month ordeal and befriends her. Angel speaks up for Rye and teaches her how to speak up for herself and for others.

Copies of her book, may be purchased online at The Book Patch.

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Becky Purser has covered breaking news as well as crime and courts primarily in Houston and Peach counties for The Telegraph. She’s now exploring topics that impact the lives of children, parents and the family. A graduate of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville with a bachelor’s degree in communications/news-editorial sequence, Becky also has covered city and county government for Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia newspapers.
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