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Something Beautiful

To the Editor:

On Thursday, January 30th, I attended the "Say Something Beautiful" assembly at Newtown High School.  The program, for the freshman and sophomores, was meant to help foster a more caring high school community.

Through an authentic and interactive forum, speaker Traciana Graves afforded students something they rarely get: an opportunity to have their innermost voices “heard” within a safe and uniquely supportive environment of peers. That Ms Graves was able to cultivate this in a room of over 700 students was remarkable.

 The number of students who bravely stepped up to share stories and feelings of isolation and despair was both illuminating and daunting.  Especially illuminating, however, was the even larger number of students wishing to offer their support and comfort. There was a palpable shift in tone as emotions and subsequent connections resonated throughout the auditorium.

 My son, a sophomore, is typically critical of any assembly he's obliged to attend. He found it both compelling and “exposing.” He and his friends have also noted that kids are “not as mean to each other” since the experience with Ms. Graves.  “People are at a breaking point,” my son told me, “This assembly offered an opportunity to expose their reality.”

I can understand the concerns stemming from such a raw and powerful experience and no doubt there are lessons to be learned going forward with such presentations.  However, Ms Graves left our students with more than just an emotional release; she incorporated a concrete and empowering path for students to understand how their brain processes and, more importantly, can sustain the perspective gained from such exercises in compassion and empathy.

Many thanks to the educators who brought this program to NHS.

Suzy DeYoung

9 Gopher Road, Newtown                February 12, 2014

To the Editor:

On Thursday, January 30th, I attended the "Say Something Beautiful" assembly at Newtown High School.  The program, for the freshman and sophomores, was meant to help foster a more caring high school community.

Through an authentic and interactive forum, speaker Traciana Graves afforded students something they rarely get: an opportunity to have their innermost voices “heard” within a safe and uniquely supportive environment of peers. That Ms Graves was able to cultivate this in a room of over 700 students was remarkable.

 The number of students who bravely stepped up to share stories and feelings of isolation and despair was both illuminating and daunting.  Especially illuminating, however, was the even larger number of students wishing to offer their support and comfort. There was a palpable shift in tone as emotions and subsequent connections resonated throughout the auditorium.

 My son, a sophomore, is typically critical of any assembly he's obliged to attend. He found it both compelling and “exposing.” He and his friends have also noted that kids are “not as mean to each other” since the experience with Ms. Graves.  “People are at a breaking point,” my son told me, “This assembly offered an opportunity to expose their reality.”

I can understand the concerns stemming from such a raw and powerful experience and no doubt there are lessons to be learned going forward with such presentations.  However, Ms Graves left our students with more than just an emotional release; she incorporated a concrete and empowering path for students to understand how their brain processes and, more importantly, can sustain the perspective gained from such exercises in compassion and empathy.

Many thanks to the educators who brought this program to NHS.

Suzy DeYoung

9 Gopher Road, Newtown                February 12, 2014

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