Guest speakers inspire Mustangs over two days

Kara Smith – Mustangs Ahead

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Sandy Hook guest speaker Sarah Militello converses with LRHS students.

(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL) – LRHS students attended an assembly sponsored by Sandy Hook Promises Thursday. Guest Speaker Sarah Militello spoke about approaching people who seem isolated and saying “Hello.”  Students from all four grades attended the program.

Militello said, “Millions of students in every school and community around the country are alone and quietly suffering though each day.“

She continued that reaching out to such isolated individuals can be vital to their health and safety.

“People who are isolated can become victims of bullying, bullies, depressed and, in the extreme, become violent toward themselves and others.

“It’s hard to know what can be prevented by welcoming people into friendship.”

The presentation provided students with tips on how to approach people they don’t know and engage them in conversation.

Senior Anna Stock said, “I found the presentation really interesting, and I will definitely be using the tips she gave us to talk to people I haven’t before.”

Some of the tips included icebreakers.

Junior Jenelle Bayor said, “It was really fun. I liked the part when she taught us ways to introduce ourselves to someone. I found the icebreakers very helpful and fun.”

Militello also inspired the president and co-founder of LRHS Students for Safety Club.

Students for Safety president and co-founder Junior Ella Botko said, “The presenter gave us a great idea about doing a lemonade stand. Instead of paying for lemonade, you write a compliment on an empty cup and the cup goes to the next customer. That means that every customer gets a compliment on their cup.”

The presentation’s intention was to impact the school and cause the community on campus to be open and welcoming.

LRHS discipline dean Thomas Bellantonio said, “My hope, for the impact on the students, is that they will recognize another student in need. We all have bad days so maybe just saying something or holding a door will be enough to change that person’s mood around.

“As far as impact on the teachers and administration, I hope we are all a bit more cognizant of the students around us because we do get caught up in our everyday roles and responsibilities.

“The presentation did give us a good and fresh prospective on student’s basic needs which is not only feeling comfortable and safe here on campus but also knowing that there are people who care about them.”

Militello reminded Mustangs they must be proactive in their efforts toward inclusion.

“Someone can feel alone even if they’re with others,” she said.

Petrocelli encourages students that they “matter”

Anna Stock – Mustangs Ahead

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Guest speaker Bobby Petrocelli addresses Mustangs about the source of their decisions.

(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL) – Speaker Bobby Petrocelli came to LRHS Wednesday to address seniors on the impact of drunk driving and the importance of why “you matter.”

Petrocelli travels nationwide to speak to high schools, communities, and sports teams.  He shares that people are not defined by what happened in the past and the importance of loving yourself.

Petrocelli started the lecture describing his college years and how he met his wife Ava. He then shared his horror story of the night he lost Ava to a drunk driver.

Petrocelli explained that it wasn’t drunk driving that killed his wife;  it was someone experiencing the immense pain/heartache that led to drinking.

“Don’t let the sadness in your heart get to your brain,” said Petrocelli.

Petrocelli was available at the end of the meeting for students to talk, get a bracelet, brochure, or to donate.

Senior Bailey Wegenast enjoyed the presentation.

“I thought that the speech was very moving, I came into this thinking it would be like every other drunk driving lecture, but it was actually so much more. It made me really think about my past and how it may have influenced my thoughts and actions,” shared Wegenast.

Senior Tony Sablan said, “I wasn’t really sure where he [Petrocelli] was going with his speech, but once he started explaining how it wasn’t drunk driving that killed his wife but rather a decision influenced by pain/anger it made more sense and was influential.”

Sara Cestero, Mackenzie Hopkins and Isabella Heupel assisted with this story.

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