Every two years we have a very special day at school. We have guests come and the students get to listen to their stories of surviving difficult experiences. Today our guests are:
- Sally Alexander — Overcoming Handicaps
- Mark Barden — Sandy Hook Promise
- Daryl Davis — A Black Man’s Odyssey into the KKK
- Dr. Jerry Ehrlich — Doctors Without Borders: One Man’s Story
- Edward Fine — Surviving 9/11: A True Story
- Jacy Good — Hang Up and Drive
- David Kaczynski — The Death Penalty in America
- Anisa Mehdi — Tales of Tolerance and Courage
- Tamara Meyer — The Holocaust: A Descendant’s Story
- Dr. Joseph Sebarenzi — Rwanda: Peace and Reconciliation
- Kellum Smith — Overcoming Violence
- Dave Stevens — The Impossible Dream
- Lorna Tychostup — Iraq: The Untold Story
- Jeff Veatch — Overcoming Adversity
Mark Barden gave the Keynote on his 8-year-old son Daniel, and his murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. How the family has survived and created a foundation help stop gun violence. This was very powerful. Administrators from Sandy Hook’s school district were present to watch the various presentations, and more importantly, how the students handled the strong emotions. They may be running one of these themselves soon.
My group of 7th graders also saw:
- Jeff Veatch, who talked about his son Justin, who died of a drug overdose, and how his friends may have been able to save him if they talked to him about his problem. Justin was very talented musically, and had put out some tracks before he died on his first day of high school. I’ll be sure to listen to them.
- Dr. Joseph Sebarenzi, who is a Tutsi who survived the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s. He went on to be the Speaker for the Parliament, until forced out under threat of death. He now is a professor, and also works for the US government.
- Dave Stevens, who is a victim of Thalidomide. He was born without legs. But this hasn’t stopped him from playing baseball, football, basketball, and more. He is now an announcer for ESPN.
- David Kaczynski, whose brother Ted Kaczynski was the Unabomber. David talked about how Ted grew apart from his family and secluded himself. How David and his wife realized that Ted may be America’s Most Wanted Criminal, and how it affected them and the heart-wrenching decision they had to make.
This is the fourth time our school has done Narratives of Courage, and it remains the most important day for the students. I look forward to many more of these. Many thanks to Andrew W. and Lauryn M. for organizing it.
We must provide opportunities for our children to help others. After a learning experience like Narratives of Courage, the students may plan a fundraiser, hold a rally, write letters to legislators, or just help a neighbor or friend. Action. This special day motivates action for a better world. Thank you, Mr. Riley, for writing about Narratives of Courage.