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Teen Suspended—Then Rewarded—for Saving Classmate's Life

The Short of It

Following a similar incident earlier this month when one teen was suspended for lending her inhaler to a friend suffering from an asthma attack at school, Anthony Ruelas was suspended last week after attempting to save another student's life. After his story went viral, the teen is now receiving praise—and job offers!—for doing the right thing, even though it got him in trouble.

The Lowdown

According to NBC affiliate KCEN, when a girl in Anthony Ruelas' class told the kids she was having an asthma attack, her teacher refused to let anyone leave the classroom to get help. Instead, she told them to remain in their seats while she emailed the school nurse and waited for a reply, as the girl kept wheezing. But when the poor girl fell out of her chair several minutes later, Ruelas sprang into action, scooping her up and carrying her to the nurse's office.

And what was his reward for such an exemplary display of heroic behavior? The 15-year-old student was written up by his teacher and suspended for two days from his alternative middle school. "I was like what?" Ruelas told KCEN. "I'm suspended for this? Like, I was trying to help her."

Mandy Cortes, Ruelas' mother, told KCEN she was really proud of the way her son reacted and frustrated with the school's response. "Especially with it being an alternative school I feel like the kids hear enough of 'they're bad,'" she said. "For them to not be rewarded for really something that is brave, you know, he is a hero to me."

We agree. And now that Ruelas' story is going viral, the courageous teen is finally receiving the accolades he deserves. Emails and Facebook messages have been flowing in. A nursing organization presented Ruelas with a Citizen Hero Award. And a teacher offered to teach him math since his mom has decided to homeschool him for the rest of the year following the incident.

But the most amazing opportunity came from Democratic State Representative Henry Cuellar, who offered Ruelas an intership!

"That story really got my attention, the way he was treated," Cuellar said. "If he'd like to do an internship here in Washington, we'd love to have him here in Washington." Ruelas won't be eligible to intern until he's 16, but he told KCEN he's "definitely going to think about it." - KCEN HD - Waco, Temple, and Killeen

The Upshot

What an amazing kid! Even before receiving all the accolades, Ruelas told KCEN that given the chance, he would make the same decision all over again. Good for him. His punishment from the school seems outrageous to me, especially when you consider what could've happened to the girl if Ruelas had blindly listened to his teacher.

Maybe the teacher should be punished for not springing into action when one of her students was clearly in distress. At the very least, the district should have protocols in place for when students have asthma attacks—protocols that go above and beyond typing out an email and then just sitting back and waiting for a reply.

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