Be Kind, Every Day, Every Time, Every One was the Center for Prevention and Counseling’s theme of their 22nd annual Taking Flight to Change Anti-Bullying Middle School.
More than six hundred middle school students, high school mentors, school advisors, and volunteers packed the Sussex Technical School’s McNiece Auditorium to participate in the nonprofit’s event on Thursday, Oct. 13.
Through workshops, performances, and a digital backpack full of ideas and connections to other schools, the Summit creates excitement for students to make positive changes within their school communities.
“Since 2001, our Summit has empowered middle and high school students to unite and make a difference. Every student can ‘be the one’ to effect change in their school and community. This event provides the students the tools to do just that,” said Becky Carlson, Executive Director of the Center for Prevention & Counseling.
The Summit’s tradition of featuring student-led performances kicked off with Sussex Tech High School eleventh-grade student Alexandra Perez’s rendition of “Try Everything” by Shakira. Sussex Charter School students presented a video showing the power of being the one to make a difference and reinforced the value of kindness, respect, and fostering a healthy school community.
Another powerful part of the day was the participation of seventy-five high school youth mentors to middle school students. The high school mentors engaged the students with energizer activities and a show of community spirit as they guided them with their action plans. Lynn Damelio, Sparta High School Advisor to the Find the Courage student mentors, said, “Just wanted to say amazing job yesterday, AS ALWAYS. I have been attending the Summit since 2012, so I know!”
International speaker Keith Hawkins, who first spoke at the Center’s 2002 summit, delivered a dynamic and impactful keynote speech on ‘Give What You Need.’ The students listened attentively to Hawkins’s talk about kindness, the power of one, the importance of personal responsibility and accountability, and the difference each student can make within their school community.
“The Middle School Summit was inspiring to say the least! It was exciting to bring the students together, in person, to produce practical and creative ways to improve the overall climate of our school,” said Gina Ferraro, Sussex Middle School Guidance Counselor.
Keynote speaker Keith Hawkins used a magic cup to capture the students’ attention during his closing remarks. Spilling water from the cup as he spoke about the emptiness that people can feel.“On the inside, we have more things in common than we have differences,” Hawkins said. “It doesn’t matter what race you are; gay, straight, or queer does not matter. We are the same on the inside; we look different on the outside. Everybody has hope, everybody has dreams, everybody has friends, and everybody has a family. You get so wrapped up on the outside you’ve forgotten what’s on the inside, or you haven’t figured out what’s on the inside. There is good in you. There is good in all people. Never forget it. Love always. Help people. Be the best version of yourself. The water is only an illusion. What’s real is all these advisors who brought you here, all the things you stood up and were excited for, and all the messages you heard - what is real is you going back to your schools and pouring into people and helping them with relationships, empowerment, attitude, and helping them rise together as leaders.”