Our schools are filled with hurting people. Students with broken homes. Friends with broken relationships. Classmates with sickness and struggle. Peers with crazy siblings, and busy schedules. Acquaintances with good days and bad days. Teammates with little sleep and falling grades. Friends that struggle in math class, or just with saying kind words.
The fact of the matter is; we are all going through something. The size of the conflict doesn’t matter; pain is relative and people are hurting.
But without this fact, schools would not be the unique places that they are. As a high school student we go to schools that range in size, diversity, academic expectation, different athletics, and variation of opportunity. Overall however, everybody you pass in the hallway: teachers, peers, and even administrators are working through something.
We spend hours upon hours in the walls of our schools weekly, and we pour time into it outside of school as well. It is up to us to change the atmosphere of our schools. We decide if it will be a positive or negative environment. We choose to make it a place of change... a safe place...or a place of fear. As students, it is our job to make a change. We must stop waiting for others to make a change, when each of us can contribute to the hurting people we encounter every day.
So how can we be sure our presence is positive?
A smile goes a long way.
It is really easy to see negativity on the face of someone who never smiles, but a positive person’s smile can be contagious. Once one person smiles you never know what the domino effect could lead to. Love, joy, and happiness can be found in a simple gesture and change your own attitude as well as changing the course of someone else’s day. It does not take much, but one small task can lead to a better school atmosphere.
You can break or make someone’s day with your words.
Stress builds up. Pain builds up. Negativity builds up. Unkind words build up. Once these built up limits are reached; there is a breaking point. When you talk to someone unkindly, what you tell them could be their one more ounce until they burst. Choose your words wisely in order to prevent that breaking point from being reached. You are very capable to be the person with the right thing to say, to prevent someone from lashing out in the long run.
Our words have authority and power, and with the right purpose…our words can change our schools. Also, I believe that often we associate positivity with compliments in our schools, but many times when compliments are kind…are they genuine? Do you mean what you say wholeheartedly? Genuine people are the people that I love to be around, the one’s I know are being honest, truthful, and kind at all times. This also applies to our friendships. When somebody opens up to you and lets you in on their struggle are you honestly listening? Do you listen intently with the hope to respond with advice or words of comfort…or do you shake your head while your mind is somewhere else. In order to improve our schools we must be genuine with our words no matter if it is your locker neighbor with the cute shoes and nice hair or your best friend.
We are not always going to get along, not everybody is going to like you, but we can be RESPECTFUL to the actions of others.
Everybody has their niche, their tendencies, and habits. Often times when somebody disagrees with us, or acts differently, we are quick to judge. While we may not agree or understand some decisions, we are surrounded by the same peers for four years and you must respect the actions of others. Keep an open mind, accept who they are as a person; who knows, they may be just like you.
Additionally, not everybody is going to love you; and you can’t change that. However, you should still treat them with the same kindness as you would to your best friend. Creating enemies creates a negative environment in our schools. We need a loving atmosphere, a place where we can begin to attempt at getting along. It’s hard to do, but four years is too long to not attempt to find an acquaintance or form a new friendship.
I believe our schools give us one of the coolest places to make a difference, and everyone can take part; one small change can lead to even bigger changes. While people are hurting you never know how a smile, a kind word, a compliment, or a friendship could change their day or week. So before you get frustrated with your crabby teacher, or the boy who sits next to you in English class; they are going through something just like you. Maybe they are frustrated because of a bad grade, lack of sleep, or family situation; we never know the circumstances but we can imagine ourselves on our worst days.
Think to yourself, “Do I have days like them?”
The answer is yes.
We have struggling days. Days where it is difficult to roll out of bed. Days where tiredness consumes us, or we have a difficult circumstance. Never judge one of your peers without putting yourself in their shoes, because you do not know their life story. It is our jobs to change the atmosphere, the secure feelings of our high schools. Our individual schools need us. While we may not be able to change the difficult situations of the many people we encounter every day within the walls of our schools we can attempt to bring light to the darkness; and it only takes one spark to light the fire. You can be the change, your school needs you.
WRITTEN BY Drezdan Ginder