BE ONE WORLD

This was the theme of our B-1 day today. Eleven years ago, in response to the Columbine Massacre, a group of students came together wanting to do something to address the horrible incident at Columbine. They came up with a day entitled B-1, a day about students created by the students. Over the years, I have been touched again an again by what I have witnessed by the students at my high school on this day– one that they come together as a whole community with the sole purpose of celebrating our diversity in an effort to realize our commonalities.
Typically, the day begins w/ a panel and a video, both student run/created. The panel usually has about 7 speakers whose speeches generally speak to an obstacle they have overcome. Half of the school sits in attendance of this panel listening attentively to their peers, an often one adult, relating a personal story of adversity, strength, courage… At the end of the panel discussion, there is always open mic time where students spontaneously can come up to say whatever is on their minds. Meanwhile, the other half of the school, is watching a student made video with diversity/ tolerance themed topics– completely executed by a host of members of the student body. Both groups switch. Afterwards, there are break out sessions in various parts of the building; some of these include, a coffee house, open mic, free store, crafts, poetry readings, live musical performances, demonstrations… they vary from one year to the next.
Today exceeded any other B-1 day I have been a part of. I’m not sure of the reason, or perhaps I feel this way every year, then life resumes and I forget only to be reminded again at the next B-1 day. It’s funny how life does that, isn’t it?
I’d like to share some experiences of my day that will last in my memory of it.
In the video, there was a short film about a girl who had died in an accident, but she didn’t realize she was dead until half-way through the film. Revealed was the presence of empty alcohol bottles- the cause of her death. I was amazed at the professional quality of the video and the strong message. The film ends w/ her parents bent over her grave sight, and the girl looking down upon them grieving.
During the video, there was a flash-mob type skit, where students enacted destructive behaviors (peer pressure, drinking, smoking, fighting, abuse, violence, suicide, bulimia) all through non-verbal communication. It was very powerful.
The visual image of a student, who is absent of her hair due to her chemotherapy treatments, holding up a sign that reads “I feel ugly.”
At the panel I attended, I witnessed 3 students of teachers, discussing different subjects:
1) She is the epitome of grace, an academic student, always seemingly put together, revealed how her first relationship w/ a boy was physically, violently, sexually, & verbally abusive and she masked her pain for so long.
2) This student revealed she suffered from delayed development as a baby in an orphanage in Russia before she was adopted which resulted in her inability to bond– this caused difficulties learning, depression– she cut herself to feel better– and several hospitalizations.
3) This young man spoke about his dedication to B-1 day for four years. He spoke w/ a maturity few high school students possess. He gets the meaning of B-1 day!
And the open mic brought out students who realized achieving perfection was impossible, that only when she focused on what she cared about more than others that she truly found happiness, also students who came out as gay or bi-sexual, those bullied and alienated, those who lost friends through death or abandonment. Perhaps the one that touched me the most was the football player who accompanied one of the Best buddies kids up to the microphone to talk about how he found his family at CHS. Then there was the guidance counselor, who will be retiring at the end of the year, who said at the end of his speech about personal, face to face communication, that he had one thing left to say,
“I love this place!”

I can write so much more about my day, but I’ll end it by saying that today reaffirmed for me that one should never ever judge another because you never know what is really going on in another’s life. Also, that people need to go out of their way to be kind, to make a positive difference in someone else’s day.

At one point, I thought about going up to the open mic, but I didn’t because I was emotional, as I always am on this day– not because I was sad, but because I was in awe of the courage I witnessed by so many. If I had gone up to the mic, I would have said that the next time you judge someone, to think about what you are judging, because it always says more about you than the person you are judging.

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