About Your Privacy on this Site
Welcome! To bring you the best content on our sites and applications, Meredith partners with third party advertisers to serve digital ads, including personalized digital ads. Those advertisers use tracking technologies to collect information about your activity on our sites and applications and across the Internet and your other apps and devices.
You always have the choice to experience our sites without personalized advertising based on your web browsing activity by visiting the DAA’s Consumer Choice page, the NAI's website, and/or the EU online choices page, from each of your browsers or devices. To avoid personalized advertising based on your mobile app activity, you can install the DAA’s AppChoices app here. You can find much more information about your privacy choices in our privacy policy. Even if you choose not to have your activity tracked by third parties for advertising services, you will still see non-personalized ads on our sites and applications. By clicking continue below and using our sites or applications, you agree that we and our third party advertisers can:
  • transfer your data to the United States or other countries; and
  • process and share your data so that we and third parties may serve you with personalized ads, subject to your choices as described above and in our privacy policy.

Human Interest

Fifth-Graders Pledge to Look Out for Bullied Classmate with Special Needs

Boyd Huppert/KARE

Posted on

Fifth-graders aren’t exactly known for their angelic behavior, but five Minnesota boys have taken it upon themselves to stand up to one classmate’s bullies.

When Jack Pemble, Jake Burgess, Gus Gartzke, Tyler Jones and Landon Kopischke of Franklin Elementary School in Mankato, Minnesota, noticed that James Willmert, who has a learning disability, was being picked on, they decided to take him under their wing.

“They were, like, using him and taking advantage of him,” Burgess tells Minneapolis’ KARE 11 News.

“Because he’s easier to pick on, and it’s just not right,” Pemble adds.

Now, Willmert has friends to sit with at lunch, play with at recess and even help him tie his shoes and open tricky containers.

“He used to not want to go out for recess or anything, it would be a struggle, and now he can barely eat his lunch to get outside to play with those guys,” Willmert’s mom Margi says. “They’re changing him. We just got a basketball hoop last week because he now loves basketball.”

When the boys found out that Willmert didn’t have any video games, they set out to right this egregious wrong. They pooled their money and delivered a video game console and a few games to his house; it was the first time James had ever had friends from school come play at his house.

“Every one of them was smiling like crazy,” Margi says. “I’ll never forget it. Never.”

At the end of this school year, the school district honored the boys with a “Spirit of Youth” award, for which they were nominated by their teacher, Mallory Howk.

“It really kind of makes you proud to be their teacher,” Howk says.

But the boys didn’t do it for the recognition, they say.

“He’s an awesome kid to hang out with,” Burgess says.

The feeling is mutual: According to Willmert, “All these guys are the best friends anybody could ask for.”

Outbrain