ARLINGTON — Do you remember April 21, 2010? Amanda Bueno won't ever forget that day.
That's the day she forced herself to admit she was bullied into nearly killing herself.
Amanda is now a senior at Arlington Lamar High School, and before she graduates, she has a mission — not to get even, but to help others.
She recently put her thoughts in a letter to Arlington ISD Superintendent Marcelo Cavazos. Amanda wrote about something that had been on her mind a long time.
"I've been bullied since the first grade, and it has not stopped since," she wrote.
Almost always, it's about her weight. And almost always — in the past, anyway — it made her cry.
In high school, the crying turned to cutting.
A counselor helped get Amanda into treatment, and things got better.
Then — a couple of weeks ago — a Lamar student tried to take his own life, in large part because of bullying.
That's what prompted Amanda to write the letter to the superintendent. But she had already started staging anti-bullying photo shoots with friends.
"I ended up posting this one on Facebook. The caption was, 'No Hate' with a little heart," she said. It shows seven friends with duct tape on their mouths, symbolic of the desire to silence hateful words.
"The response we got was crazy," Amanda said. "People were like, 'Why didn't you tell me? I would totally have done this.'"
So they posted an invitation, and this time nearly 50 students showed up. Students who had been strangers — until they stood next to each other in a park, all wearing white T-shirts.
"Completely different people became friends that day. I can't even... it makes me so happy," Amanda said.
They created a Facebook page called LHS Love is Louder. She hopes for an even bigger turnout at the next photo event next month.
Photography has become Amanda's passion, and the source of her despair has suddenly become a source of inspiration.
"I'm more than anything ready to make a difference," she said. "I hope I can do that."
The district released a statement Monday night supporting Amanda's efforts to bring diverse students together.
A district spokeswoman also said disciplinary action has been taken against some students in the wake of the recent suicide attempt linked to alleged bullying.