What does it mean to be a hero?
This could be the start to a standardized test essay, but this is the question I asked myself today, standing in the midst of 1,700 high school students, plus elementary and middle school students and members of my school community.
Today was my school’s charity event to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. For the 11th year, my school’s community has come together to fight cancer and show our solidarity with those fighting. Tons of high school students, not to mention the elementary school and middle school students, parents, teachers, and members of the community, signed up to shave their heads or donate their hair to raise money for cancer research.
This assembly was not just an assembly. It was a rallying call. It was a call for those who have voices to continue to fight for those who cannot. It was a call for those who are battling cancer to keep fighting and to know that they are supported. It was a call for all of us to keep going, because sometimes there are bad days, but we can never give up.
Cancer is scary. It is devastating, and it impacts whole communities. But there is always the hope for a cure. There is hope in the faces of the elementary school students excited to shave their heads. There is hope in the faces of the high school students who are ready to take a stand. There is hope in the faces of the community, brimming with pride at the work that these young adults are doing to organize and put on an amazing event. And there is hope in the faces of our seven year-old “hero child” who is putting up the fight of his life.
There has been a lot in the news recently about what needs to happen in schools to fight violence that we have recently seen.
This is it. This is what needs to happen in schools. Teaching empathy. Teaching compassion. Encouraging our kids to be leaders and stand up for a cause. Allowing our students to recognize that they can make a difference and they can be heroes, even by doing something as simple as shaving their heads.
Some adults can learn a thing or two from these kids.
I stood at school today inspired and proud. Proud of my community, and darn proud of my students. These kids, this community – they are my heroes.