I sometimes joke with my friends that my job calls for me to work, day in day out, with teenagers, who are in a period of their life conducive to rebelling, acting out, and making mistakes. It's like going to work with the least competent, and mistake-proned of your co-workers. But there are mostly shining moments, and this recent post by a student on our web-forum is one of those shining moments:
I often hear the term [school name] community or some such used around campus. Sometimes Murray or Dean will say it during assembly, or sometimes a freshman will post something on campus news asking what the 'community' thinks about such and such article, to cite a few examples. What exactly are they referring to? It might've taken me nearly 4 years, but I think I've figured it out now.
Thursday morning my phone went off in class. I was taking a calculus test, so I tossed it to the teacher, let it go to voice mail, and forgot about it until later when Ms. Thomas kindly offered to return it to me.
The call was from the hospital. An old friend of mine got stomach pumped because he tried to kill himself, for the second time, by swallowing a bottle of sleeping pills. He almost didn't make it this time. The doctors told me I had to wait three days to see him. For those three days, all I could think about was why he decided life wasn't worth living anymore. When I finally got a chance to stop by today, he told me that he did it because nobody at his school cared about him, and that he felt alone. He walked in to class, asked if anyone was his friend, and when nobody responded he told them he was going to kill himself and walked out.
Nobody stopped him.
He promised not to do it again because he realized I and a few other older friends of his were still there for him. He's got a therapist, support group, and some true friends to back him up. But at his school, he felt totally estranged and alone, which nearly led to his death.
What makes [school name] different from other highschools is the student body. We are a small enough school that every student likely knows every other kid in his or her class, not to mention most of those a year above or below them. We're accepting and compassionate enough to care about each other. None of us would be willing to sit idly by and watch one of our peers drop out of school, or get sucked into hardcore drugs. I believe that each and every one of us would come to any troubled student's support. We wouldn't stand around if anyone tried to bully a freshman for being gay. And if someone came to school and said he was going to kill himself because nobody cared about him, we would all be there to show him he was wrong, no matter how popular or unpopular he might be.
I'm not asking for your support right now. I'm fine, I've been through it all before. What I am asking you all is to take a few minutes and realize that we are what we are: a community. Take a minute to realize that if you ever need support, you have over 300 people you can trust who you see every monday through friday. I might not need it now, but I know the first place I'll look if I ever need someone to help me through some particularly hard times. I didn't always realize it, but I do now, and I hope you all can too.
And maybe you could take a minute to think about what you could do to help our community out. Maybe you could reach out to someone who feels estranged from college prep, who feels he or she doesn't have many friends or doesn't fit in, and make a new friend. Maybe you could give a little mental support to someone you know who is going through a hard time. Maybe you could just preform a random act of kindness to the next person you see. Every little bit helps.
Think on it a little.
I feel the same of the triathlon community. I just read this article on Slowtwitch yesterday and I was moved to give. I don't know Tim Hola or Jeff Jewell, but I know that their passion is my passion, the multisport lifestyle, and that is reason alone to give. If you can, consider giving a donation. On a side note, mad mad props to Ian for CRUSHING Ironman Arizona, and racing to a 20+ minute PR and going an 8:41. And even more mad mad props to my teammate Ritch who raced his FIRST ironman and going a 9:14 to win his age-group and finish as third overall amateur. I was pumped all day sitting on the trainer watching. GOOD STUFF!
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