Bullying key point of speaker at MGS

Adam Larck
Keith Hawkins speaks to the Metamora Grade School students on Thursday about bullying and leadership.

Metamora Grade School fourth-eighth-grade students got the rare chance to hear a national speaker on Thursday.

Keith Hawkins, a national youth speaker from Los Angeles that speaks to 300,000-400,000 students a year, made an appearance at MGS to speak about bullying.

“We decided to do the assembly just a couple of weeks ago,” fifth-grade teacher Amanda Peck said. “I wanted to do it because I wanted the kids to realize the effects of bullying and how important it is to leave school feeling great about themselves, because it shows the domino effect. It shows everyone in our schools and community how great they are.”

Hawkins, who would normally be out of the price range for a smaller school like Metamora, was available at a discounted rate after another school in Illinois had to cancel his presentation.

The money used on Hawkins was originally going to be used to send the student council to the state convention.

“I thought, ‘If I could spend money to bring him here to talk to 500 kids, I’ve spent the money so much better

than sending 30 kids to a convention,’” Peck said.

Hawkins, who has been speaking about bullying and leadership for 25 years, taught the students about the HELP mission statement by actively involving students in the presentation.

“The HELP mission stands for honor, encourage, lead and protect,” Hawkins said.

During the presentation, Hawkins showed students that others will follow what they do and not say through various visual examples, including playing Simon Says.

“A lot of people think of leadership as leading other people. What I’m telling the kids today is lead yourself,” he said.

In addition, Hawkins told students to honor their last name by remembering values their parents taught them.

“They’re loving it,” Peck said. “They’re in there laughing. He’s very energetic. People follow what you do, not what you say. That’s the message they’re getting.”

Hawkins added that it takes more than the teachers to stop bullying.

“The teachers cannot be with them all the time. It’s not realistic,” he said.

Before the presentations, Hawkins also met with the student council for a workshop.

“This morning with the students, we talked about how we have an impact on the school by our influence with other students,” he said. “What I was teaching is how you get students to follow us. Because you’re a leader doesn’t mean they’re going to follow you, you have to give them something to follow.”

Peck said she hopes the assembly will help students keep bullying in their minds year-round.

“Our goal is that it will help people think about bullying and keep it in their mind throughout the year,” she said. “I’m hoping that’s what it will do. At least for the next few weeks this will be the big talk of the school.”