by Courtney Day
To kick off Respect Week, the Dream Team brought in Dr. Matt Bellace, acomedian, professional speaker and psychologist, to speak to the student body in order to help raise awareness about respect.
Since 1995, Bellace has spoken nationally and internationally to over one million people. Bellace’s main message is that young people need to feel empowered in their schools and communities, according to mattbellace.com. He believes that it is not enough to ask people to stay away from drugs and alcohol, but to show them there are positive things they can do for themselves and others, according to mattbellace.com.
Dream Team member Matt Friedman said: “We heard Matt Bellace speak at a conference a couple years ago in south Jersey, and he was incredible. The way he used humor to promote being yourself was awesome, and we knew the high school community would benefit from his ideology.”
Bellace presented during periods 5, 7 and 9 and discussed many topics, but mainly focused on the overall well-being of individuals. He also talked about stress-relieving techniques that all students could find helpful, not just in high school, but throughout their lives.
Environmental Science Teacher Ms. Judith McLoughlin attended the assembly. She said: “It helped raise awareness about how vulnerable teens are to negative comments made about each other and how adversity can be channeled into positive pathways.”
Bellace also encouraged everyone to lean on positive people for support and to always express emotions in an optimistic way.
Said McLoughlin: “Having someone more experienced to go to, not a peer, is often the key to successful handling of problems in a healthy manner. I think this assembly helped people to realize they are not alone in their feelings, and having someone to talk to is vital.”
Another main concept Bellace focused on was achieving the “natural highs” in life. These “natural highs” consisted of loving, exercising and laughing.
Toward the end of the assembly, Bellace called four people to go outside and discuss what their natural highs were. When they came back they lined up back on the stage and he tried to guess each of their natural highs, sprinkling jokes in with his questions.
Senior Stephen Husch was one of the four selected for the activity. He said: “My natural high was swimming and he was able to guess it correctly after a few tries. Overall, I thought that the exercise was very effective, and it gave everyone something to laugh about, which is one of the main natural highs.”
Bellace’s presentation was just one Respect Week event out of many at WHS. In addition, teachers statewide presented lessons on the topic of respect.
Said Friedman: “I think that in the end, Respect Week was a huge success, and through the entire school’s cooperation, we promoted the idea of being yourself, and living life happily without the influence of drugs and alcohol.”