It sounds so simple: Be nice to each other. For middle-schoolers, the concept is easy to say and tough to do.
To help Evergreen Middle School students embrace the concept of kindness, teacher David LeNoble spoke at a school-wide assembly on Friday, using humor and relatable stories to get students thinking about why it’s important to be kind.
LeNoble portrays different characters to help students with how they view themselves and others. He bases his presentation on a book called “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. The four tenets of the book are speaking honestly, not taking slurs made by other people personally, not assuming things about other people, and doing your best.
Portraying a British gentleman and a Texan, LeNoble challenged students to defend their ideas.
Principal Joelle Broberg told the students to remember the four agreements and to try to live by them.
“Hopefully, you’ll open your mind to what (LeNoble) has to say,” Broberg told them.
The presentation was part of the school’s year-long commitment to the Anti-Defamation League’s No Place For Hate anti-bullying and diversity-appreciation program.
After the presentation, several students said LeNoble’s message connected with them and gave them something to think about.
“His presentation was clever, and what he said was true,” said seventh-grader Jenna Boelsterli. “It relates to our school. He made it make a lot of sense.”
Seventh-grader Hannah Mason added: “He had a different point of view. Instead of saying that bullying is horrible, he shared stories. It was more hands-on.”
Seventh-grader Lucas Corbo said: “I think people took something away from the speech.”
LeNoble said before his presentation that he hopes his message touches all the students, and that each makes his life better and ultimately treats others better.
During the presentation, he reminded students that words are powerful, and people need to use words for peace and love, both when talking to themselves and talking with others.
It’s important, he said, that people learn to love themselves rather than putting themselves down. When you love yourself, then other people’s words won’t affect you when they say negative things.
“There’s a lot of judging going on,” he said. “We make assumptions about each other that usually turn out to not be true.”
He said it’s difficult not to take negative comments personally.
“Every one of you is amazing,” he said. “If they tell you something different, it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.”
He said people who bully others are having a bad day or have issues in their own lives that make them lash out at others.
“You have to believe that you are a good, amazing person,” he said. “If you do your best and not assume and not take things personally, then you will make your world a better place.”