There is nothing quite like the energy and excitement of a room full of middle school students. If you had walked through the commons today around 8:30, you would likely have noticed the large group of middle school students waiting for something… then you would have definitely noted the volume of the group. Students were checking in for Challenge Day, and waiting (as patiently as a large group of middle school students can wait) for the day-long program to start.
Challenge day is a unique event – designed around the ideas of inclusion, empathy and connectedness in our school. The program goes well beyond “bullying awareness,” to address many of the most difficult aspects of growing up. Students will have opportunities to get to know themselves, their classmates, school staff and adult volunteers from our community through music, silly games, discussions with one another and discussions with adults from our school and community.
“Be the Change” is one of the themes for the day, and is based on a quote from Ghandi – “Be the Change you wish to see in the world”. As the event’s name implies, students are challenged to make a real difference in their own world – whether it’s making a change that benefits one person, or a change that benefits the entire community.
At about 8:45, the wait was over… it was time for our kids to head into the gym. They arrived to music thumping and 25 adults who care about them cheering their arrival. The big entrance sets the stage for the atmosphere where everyone respects each other, everyone participates to the extent they are able, everyone is valued, and everyone is heard. At the end of the day, our kids will leave the gym exhausted, but ready to DO SOMETHING to make their world better. Many will be inspired to truly BE THE CHANGE!
I look forward to seeing how this group of students responds to the challenge. One of my favorite things about middle school students is the fact that they truly do believe that they can change the world, and this group just might!