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Durham Student Shares Her Experience In Letter To WRAL

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RALEIGH — Every spring, fourth-, seventh-, and 10th-graders must take a state writing proficiency test, but you rarely get to hear the issues or topics they write about. WRAL gave seventh-graders at Chewning Middle School a forum to express themselves, and we got to listen.

Chelsey Brandon told WRAL a very personal story in her letter.

Chelsey used to have longer hair and a normal life, but not anymore.

"It just gets really thin, and sometimes I just lose a whole patch, and it's completely bald," she says. "People call me names like Bald Head, Fatso and Four Eyes. People I know, and even people I don't know, call me names. I just feel hurt."

Chelsey's mom, Cassandra, thought the teasing ended last year.

"I think my initial reaction was shock," she says. "I couldn't believe that she had endured all that for the entire school year and not really mentioned it, so I guess what I initially felt was pain for my child."

Chelsey does have friends at school, good friends, but it is not just strangers who tease her. Her classmates do as well.

"It is very hard for me to accept that because it happens so often. I wish that people would accept me for who I am on the inside and not for how I look on the outside," she says.

Chelsey has found success where hair does not count. She plays bass clarinet and just got into Chewning's all-star band. After school, she keeps a close watch over her little sister, Chayla.

"I want to be a teacher because I like playing with my little sister and teaching her things, and I want to be a doctor because I like helping people," she says.

Chelsey told WRAL about something that happened after she read her letter out loud in class. A classmate who had been one of her teasers apologized and said she would stop the taunts.

Reporter: Yvonne SimonsPhotographer: Ed Wilson

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