Jeff Yalden, a popular teen speaker in North America, made an appearance at Andover High School on Tuesday, September 23.
Yalden gave three presentations throughout the course of the day. He spoke to the Warrior Way students during first block, juniors and seniors during second block, and freshman and sophomores during fourth block. Yalden talked about difficult past experiences in his life and explained the effect they had on him. He offered his audiences uplifting and positive reassurance about their lives.
Mrs. Breen, a health education teacher at the high school, with Mr. McNally, the health coordinator for Andover Public Schools, can be credited with bringing Yalden to Andover. McNally has been following Yalden online for the past couple of years, and when he sent Breen to hear him speak at another high school, she came back very impressed. Breen described her reason for wanting to bring Yalden to the school, stating, “I just think that a lot of kids are dealing with a lot of different issues and I think we have really high anxiety at the school. Maybe someone can relate to him and understand that things are going to be OK.” Breen also said she thinks that “anything for a positive school climate is helpful.”
McNally explained that his tipping point for getting Yalden to come to AHS occurred when his daughter came back from school one day, saying that Jeff Yalden was the best speaker she had ever heard in her life. McNally stated, “So now I have a health teacher that I trust and respect, who liked the message, and I have my daughter, who really resonated with what he had to say.” McNally’s reason for having Yalden speak is similar to Breen’s: “I am also hoping that his message will hit to the culture of how we treat each other. This isn’t just student to student, it’s student to teacher, teacher to teacher. So it’s just all of us taking time to think about our actions and the impact it can have on people.”
The assemblies that took place on Tuesday made an important impact on the students of Andover High. Demetri Kostakis, a member of the Warrior Way at the first block assembly, was applauded by Yalden for giving his opinion about a situation. Kostakis stated, “I guess I was surprised. I was just speaking what was on my mind, and then he was just like ‘Yes! That’s amazing!’ So it felt good.”
During the second block assembly, for juniors and seniors, Sophie Baird, a senior at Andover High, and her boyfriend, were targeted by Yalden. Baird, on what she was feeling when Yalden called her out, explains, “To be honest my heart was beating at like a thousand minutes, and I didn’t know if anything would come out of my mouth, but it really made the experience that much more powerful.” Baird also added, “The faith that he has is empowering.”
Maddie Mucher, a freshman who attended the assembly fourth block, was impacted by Yalden’s words: “I realized how fortunate I am and I need to appreciate everything in life and realize how many people really love me. Every decision can affect me and I need to make good decisions.”
After one of the assemblies, Jeff Yalden gave some thought-provoking words. “You don’t do it for the applause and the accolades. Yeah, its nice to get a standing ovation, it’s nice when everyone says thank you, but that’s everyday,” says Jeff Yalden, humbly. “I enjoy the teachable moment. I am able to plant seeds. But I think by you listening, you’re the one that’s putting water on the seeds to help it grow.”
To read more about Jeff Yalden, visit http://www.jeffyalden.com/.