After Alexis Pilkington's death, thousands pledge Web site boycott

Yolanda Couillard, 17, left, and Chanelle Stracuzza, 18, Yolanda Couillard, 17, left, and Chanelle Stracuzza, 18, right, look at childhood pictures of their friend Alexis Pilkington, Wednesday, in West Islip. (March 24, 2010) Photo Credit: Newsday / Mahala Gaylord

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Friends of a West Islip High School soccer player who committed suicide said Wednesday they are honoring her memory through activism, fundraising and tribute tattoos.

In a protest of the social networking Web site Formspring.me, where dozens of insulting comments about 17-year-old Alexis Pilkington were posted in the days before, more than 4,300 people have shown support for a movement on Facebook to boycott the site. Other friends of the star student-athlete said they will make bracelets to sell for a scholarship in her name. Another group of girls vowed to get tattoos honoring her.

Formspring representatives could not be reached Wednesday. T-shirts in neon orange, a color Pilkington wore frequently, were being made with the slogan, "Boycott Formspring," students said.

Courtney Musumeci, 17, and a dozen of Alexis' friends said they were angry the mean-spirited comments were posted on the social networking sites.

On a Facebook tribute page set up in Pilkington's memory, someone posted her cell phone number and a crude comment.

Another friend, Nicole Gnoffo, 17, said she complained to Facebook and some of the photos and comments she found offensive have been removed.

Officials with Facebook told The Associated Press the company did not condone cyberbullying and was concerned about the safety of its users.

"We will disable accounts that are found to be intimidating others in any way," said spokesman Andrew Noyes.

A group of Pilkington's friends gathered Wednesday, making plans to sell a thousand rubber bracelets.

Danielle Dilevo, 18, said she ordered bracelets with Pilkington's mantra: "Give everything but up." The other side will say, "Rest easy Lexi."

Several friends said they plan to get tattoos memorializing Alexis, including one girl who plans to have the inside of her mouth tattooed with "Alexis," next to a heart.

Ciara LeBlanc, 18, recalled spending Saturday with Pilkington and a group of friends, a day that seemed no different from any other. "She was dancing and singing at the top of her lungs," LeBlanc said.

Meanwhile, West Islip school officials are focusing on helping students grieve, spokeswoman Nancy Lenz said Wednesday.

Counselors also visited a student at home who has been too upset to go to school, Lenz said.

Superintendent Beth Virginia Blau posted a letter on the district Web site Wednesday detailing steps taken to deal with the grief, also informing students and parents that counseling will be available during the upcoming weeklong break.

The district has had initiatives in place to deal with cyberbullying, Lenz noted. An Internet safety committee was formed by students this school year and a bullying prevention committee made up of parents, teachers and administrators was formed two years ago, Lenz said. A parents' guide about bullying, which was being printed before Pilkington's death, will be mailed in the coming days, she said.

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