NOBLESVILLE, Ind. – When students stole 14-year-old Mason Birden’s headphones, wrapped them around his neck and smashed his face into a desk – he knew he couldn’t tolerate being bullied any longer.
Birden and his mother found help at Hamilton County’s first junior high charter school – Options Charter Schools.
The alternative school has two campuses in Carmel and Noblesville – where seventh and eighth graders will be welcomed when classes begin August 8.
Mason had previously attended school in another district when the problems began.
“Terrible. A lot of bullies,” he said. “The teachers didn't really I guess try and help you. You were just kind of on your own and I needed help."
Birden’s mother, Stacy said it was a bad experience for her son.
“Mason went through a lot. We are talking hospital bills, we are talking eggs thrown at our home, very unprovoked type of behavior,” said Stacy. “They even took his headphones and wrapped them around his neck and smashed his face down on the desk, almost broke his nose, in the classroom full of children."
Birden said he would isolate himself and felt defenseless against bullies.
“It's like okay I have to wake up every morning and get prepared for this person to be mean to me and it was just all about like saying the right things and getting someone to like me. I wasn't even focused on learning,” said Birden.
Options provides an environment for students who have not found success in the traditional large public school setting. The school's executive director said there is a need for alternative schooling in Hamilton county.
"With an alternative school, with students coming to something a little different, you have to get buy in from parents and the community to say it's okay to do something different,” said Executive Director Michelle Walden. "We have a lot of students that are very artistic and don't necessarily connect to the sports or some of the other things that you might find in a traditional school setting."
Stacy said the smaller class sizes and overall environment has made Birden’s experience positive.
“I just think this actually came along as such a blessing for him,” she said.
More information on Options Charter Schools can be found here.