So, last night STARS (me) hosted a student/parent kick off night at the high school in the gym. We wanted to remind parents and students how precious life is and not to take things for granted. I need to be reminded of that several times throughout the day, especially when I run out creamer for my coffee. We had a dynamic speaker that shared his personal story about losing his son to a drunk driver. Heartbreaking. Why does that happen? I’m angry. I wish someone would have taken the keys away. So we all have heard this story a million times either on Oprah, or a high school assembly 10 years ago, but what threw me is that Mr. Williams did not speak about his “world”, he spoke about the boy who shattered his “world”. “Why did this boy make this choice”? “Why did no one love him”? “Why did he not have influences in his life that showed him character or to teach him to make good choices”? And when this boy left the bar after 6 straight hours, why didn’t any of his “friends” take his keys away”? “Why didn’t they have anyone who taught them to be a bystander”?
The night concluded with several musical performances from our students ranging from guitar, piano (that I wheeled 5 miles from the choir room) to a quartet that caused me to tear up the second the first note left their voices. In the midst of this our Assistant Principal read a summary of the evening and spoke the names (all 9) of the students that had tragically passed away from our school. I had the honor (I’m being serious) of taking the week to call these parents and inviting them to a night where their “world” was being remembered. Life looks differently when you’re listening to a parent that is heartbroken on the other end of the phone. And life looks differently when you see the very same parents walk into the gym with smiles spread across their faces. When the names were mentioned we had an opportunity to stand representing our love for that particular student. It was only for a few seconds but it felt like minutes. Suddenly…all the hurt, anger, selfishness, judgment etc. doesn’t matter anymore. Instead of hearing the voice in your head you hear tears and sniffs.
Last night was yet again another reminder for me that every choice counts. But really, every choice counts. Every person that you know and/or encounter provides an opportunity for you to make a difference. Below is the summary that our assistance principal read. I loved it so I’m posting it.
Those of us here tonight know what a special community this truly is. Though each of us is made differently, both physically and emotionally, we have this structure that unites us as a family. We want what is best for our peers, even though we may not know their names. As members of this family, we know that life is precious and we must treat each day like the gift it is. As members of this family we laugh together; We play together; We learn together; AND we cry together. Tonight is about celebrating this family. It is about respectfully celebrating a new face in a crowded student section and it is about celebrating the face that you have seen every day since the third grade. It is about celebrating each body that walks the halls of our school, celebrating those who will walk the halls after us, and it is about celebrating those who have walked the halls before us. Tonight is about remembering. It is about remembering the members of our family who we have lost and it is about remembering what their lives have taught us about life itself. You may have never met the wonderful people whose names I am about to read, you may have been a classmate, or you may have been a friend or relative. Regardless of how you knew them, celebrate. Celebrate what they taught us while they were here and how they remind us to hold each moment as a treasure and celebrate each other daily.