A visit from ‘Batman’


Delivering message of hope, helping others

By Brittany Hively - [email protected]



Gallia Academy Middle School students filled the school gym to hear the testimony and inspiring message of Huntington’s Batman.

Gallia Academy Middle School students filled the school gym to hear the testimony and inspiring message of Huntington’s Batman.


Brittany Hively | OVP

Batman spoke to the students on a number of challenging issues that he faced growing up and said some of the students may be facing now, encouraging them to seek assistance and avoid his mistakes.


Brittany Hively | OVP

Batman, John Buckland, shed his mask to show students he was real and had nothing to hide.


Brittany Hively | OVP

Batman will return to Silver Screen VII on March 12, inviting all students to come out and see the Batmobile in person.


Brittany Hively | OVP

Batman sent a special message of solidarity to those in Ukraine, with Gallia Academy Middle School students sharing their love and support.


Brittany Hively | OVP

GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — The one and only Batman made his appearance at Gallia Academy Middle School (GAMS) Thursday morning, bringing a special message of hope and helping others.

Silver Screen VII with TriCity Theatres hosted the event, bringing Batman to not only GAMS but to five total schools in Gallia and Jackson counties.

“We are just getting a grand opening together for the theater that’s in Chillicothe,” said Cora Willett, president of TriCity Theatre LLC. “[It’s] been closed for a year-and-a-half and we wanted to do some special events in coordination with the grand opening, but when we do events, we don’t want to just benefit one theater.”

Willett said she originally reached out to John Buckland, known as the “Huntington Batman” in West Virginia, about making an appearance at the grand reopening of Danbarry Cinemas, which turned into visiting all three theaters with the company.

“And he [Buckland] said, ‘let’s make it a full fledged tour,’” Willett said. “‘See if any schools are interested in having me and we’ll do a partnership with the schools before we come to [the theater event].’”

Willett said she had done research on Buckland and after talking with a teacher friend, she found only good things said about the Batman.

Willett said Batman visited all five schools on Thursday delivering his message and he will later visit the theaters with the Batmobile, allowing visitors to get a picture with the car and with Batman, himself. He will then deliver a short five-10 minutes message to those attending the Batman movie.

“It wasn’t about promoting the movie,” Willet said. “It wasn’t about that kind of promotion, but having that good message to spread.”

The GAMS gymnasium filled with applause as the Batman entered the room.

Batman opened his message by telling the students he would be talking about life and some of the hard things from child abuse and drug use to suicide attempts and prison time.

After saying this, Buckland said he promised to always be transparent as he shed the Batman mask, citing he has “nothing to hide.”

Buckland, who has been in the “Batman army” and sharing his message as Batman with Heroes 4 Higher for more than 10 years, said he is currently the only full-time Batman in the world.

Sharing his testimony with the young teenagers, Buckland encouraged them to be mindful of not only the things he spoke about, but the friends sitting around them because the same things could be happening to anyone. He encouraged anyone going through abuse of any kind to not keep it a secret, like he once had, but to reach out for help.

“Hate has a way of duplicating itself,” Buckland said. “And that gets passed down from one generation to the next to become worse, more destructive.”

Buckland said not only did the abuse, bullying and events of his childhood fill him with hate, but they turned him into an even bigger bully then those who bullied him.

“I was getting bigger, taller and the kid who hated so much to be bullied in elementary school became one of the meanest kids in middle school,” Buckland said. “When I walked down the hallway, you moved to the other said. Because I thought for survival was treating others like I was treated.”

Speaking of his years bullying, getting in to drugs and eventually finding himself in prison, Buckland said he gravitated towards others in similar situations and vice versa.

“I was a magnet that attracted others that were broken too,” Buckland said. “I was the bad boy they wanted to fix. You can’t fix someone who doesn’t want fixed.”

Buckland said he became a person he never wanted to be, finding himself in prison at 21-years-old, where another inmate reached out to him, asked why he had so much hate and encouraged him to get into therapy.

Not only did Buckland eventually follow the inmate-turned-friend’s advice, he obtained his GED and studied college courses.

On a quest to turn his life around, Buckland worked hard from bussing tables to eventually reaching management of a restaurant. He made it to the fire academy, a dream of his. Throughout the year the state of Georgia recognized his change in life and pardoned him, and eventually his record was expunged.

Buckland said one night he woke up with the words, “Be Batman” playing in his head and that has led him to where he is now.

“Do you understand you are the age that I was when I lived my nightmare,” Batman asked.

He encouraged students to be the “chain breakers” and seek help to work through the troubles they may be having, informing the group that their story could one day save someone else.

“We’ve got to make the decision to do the work,” Buckland said. “I turned my life full circle.”

Buckland said there were four things he wanted the students to never forget: never give up, always do the right thing, help other people and never be a bully.

Before finishing off his message, he shared a video on his Facebook page, with the students in the background sharing their love for the children of Ukraine.

Buckland will be hitting the road in two weeks to bring Batman to Poland/Ukraine. He encouraged the students to make a card or write a letter, nothing too big, and bring it to him at the event at Silver Screen VII and he will take those letters and give them to the children he visits on the trip.

Willett said Batman will take any letters or cards students from the community bring to him for the children in Ukraine.

Batman and Sean Langley, illustrator, will be at Silver Screen VII on March 12.

Langley will have a table set up in the lobby doing some on-site drawings, selling his art and offering prints for sell. Willett said he will be there starting around 3 p.m.

Batman will have the Batmobile at the theater from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. collecting letters/cards, meeting visitors and taking pictures.

Willett said tickets are not required for the Batman visit. However, as mentioned above, prior to the screening of the new Batman movie, he will give a quick five to 10 minute special talk to viewers. Movie tickets are on sale now, Willett said.

“We look forward to doing more events like this,” Willett said. “With COVID, we haven’t been able to, but we like incorporating things that get the community excited and things that we’re able to share.”

This was the first off-site event the theater has hosted.

“We’ve never brought things to the schools, but we sponsored him being here today and at the other four schools,” Willett said. “It was great to work with the school to bring him, they were very accommodating. And I think it was a good thing that we look forward to doing again.”

© 2022, Ohio Valley Publishing, all rights reserved.

Gallia Academy Middle School students filled the school gym to hear the testimony and inspiring message of Huntington’s Batman.
https://www.mydailyregister.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2022/03/web1_IMG_5852.jpgGallia Academy Middle School students filled the school gym to hear the testimony and inspiring message of Huntington’s Batman. Brittany Hively | OVP

Batman spoke to the students on a number of challenging issues that he faced growing up and said some of the students may be facing now, encouraging them to seek assistance and avoid his mistakes.
https://www.mydailyregister.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2022/03/web1_IMG_5856.jpgBatman spoke to the students on a number of challenging issues that he faced growing up and said some of the students may be facing now, encouraging them to seek assistance and avoid his mistakes. Brittany Hively | OVP

Batman, John Buckland, shed his mask to show students he was real and had nothing to hide.
https://www.mydailyregister.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2022/03/web1_IMG_5867.jpgBatman, John Buckland, shed his mask to show students he was real and had nothing to hide. Brittany Hively | OVP

Batman will return to Silver Screen VII on March 12, inviting all students to come out and see the Batmobile in person.
https://www.mydailyregister.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2022/03/web1_IMG_5878.jpgBatman will return to Silver Screen VII on March 12, inviting all students to come out and see the Batmobile in person. Brittany Hively | OVP

Batman sent a special message of solidarity to those in Ukraine, with Gallia Academy Middle School students sharing their love and support.
https://www.mydailyregister.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2022/03/web1_IMG_5883.jpgBatman sent a special message of solidarity to those in Ukraine, with Gallia Academy Middle School students sharing their love and support. Brittany Hively | OVP
Delivering message of hope, helping others

By Brittany Hively

[email protected]

Brittany Hively is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Follow her on Twitter @britthively; reach her at (740) 446-2342 ext 2555.

Brittany Hively is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Follow her on Twitter @britthively; reach her at (740) 446-2342 ext 2555.