Speaker promotes respect in nation’s schools

You don’t know my life.
Most of my grade and a lot of the school knows who I am.
I’ve had classes with hundreds of different students, and my name has even been mentioned on the announcements a few times over the years.
If you’ve seen me, you could probably give an accurate description of my appearance: brown hair, blue eyes, skin that looks as if it hasn’t seen the light of day for a while.
That’s me.
But it definitely isn’t all of me.
In fact, there are a few things you wouldn’t know about me just by passing by in the hallway, having
a 15-minute conversation with me or even being a close friend of mine.
Truth is, no one is really who they appear to be.
When guest speaker Ed Gerety came to our school a few weeks ago, that mes- sage stayed with me.
Gerety told a touch- ing story about a group of students in school making fun of a boy at lunch.
They thought the boy couldn’t hear what they were saying, but he could.
Gerety pulled the tor- mentors into a hallway and explained the challenging situation the boy was deal- ing with at home.
His brother was in the hospital receiving a bone marrow transplant.
He spent all of his nights at his brother’s bedside.
Most people don’t go around telling everyone they see intimate details about their life.
While not every student in our school is going
through a difficult time at home, we shouldn’t assume they aren’t.
A rumor or snide com- ment about something superficial like someone’s appearance hurts, especially when the person already has a mountain of issues to deal with.
MTV aired a show this summer called If You Really Knew Me that coincides with Gerety’s message.
The show features two speakers who travel to schools across the country.
The schools they go to typically have a lot of gossip and bullying problems.
In each episode, teens in different social groups sit together and share details about their lives.
Many of the students are shocked to hear their peers have problems at home ranging from depression to parents with drug addic- tions.
We have to respect each others’ boundaries.
We need to understand that a side comment we don’t think twice about can actually ruin someone’s day.
Blue Valley is a great school, Gerety said it himself.
We are fortunate to have a lot of students who care about academics and extra-curricular success. But we aren’t perfect. While bullying instances are few and far between inside school walls, it shouldn’t exist at all.
Before you make a com- ment about how ridiculous so-and-so’s hair looks to a friend, think about the story Gerety shared.
Think about how your life isn’t easy and the chal- lenges you face.
If someone said those words about you, how would it feel?
Life is going to suck for each of us at some point. Let’s not make things any harder for each other.