Mike Smith was not for me, but that’s okay


If the name does not ring a bell, there is a high chance that whoever is reading this article does not go to Redlands East Valley. For those who are not aware, Mike Smith is a youth motivational speaker and action sports personality. He visited REV on Monday Aug. 21, 2017, on the day of the eclipse.

This was not the first time Smith made his way into our school, with the first day of school filled with watching videos from his show “The Harbor.Mike Smith is a charismatic young man with long hair and a positive attitude only found in Disney Channel movies about teen life. So when the time came for the face of “The Harbor” to, as he said, “kick it with us,” nobody seemed excited. Students were not very enthusiastic that they had to go to another assembly of a guest speaker trying to relate with teenagers. Yet Mike Smith was the ultimate wake-up call for students at REV and would change many perspectives on being a student and a person as a whole.

First came the complaints from students. “Why are we doing this?” ,“Wait, who’s Mike Smith?” and “What’s the point of this again?” were common phrases passed around. It seemed counter-intuitive to waste an hour of school on a guest speaker while students were not even aware of the upcoming assembly.

Some students were very disengaged with the assembly before it even started. For example, security told the uninterested kids sitting on the stairs to sit on the bleachers. One kid staring at his phone scooted over but did not get off the stairs. A few people became uncomfortable with his attitude towards security and the assembly. He, as well as others, then proceeded to just look at their phones for half of the presentation. A couple of students exchanged glances, as if to say “really?” about the whole act, not understanding why he could not just sit and be a good audience member.

As the presentation went on and Mike Smith told more jokes and stories from his high school experience, more and more kids became engaged. Many students began to lose track of time, listening to stories about the kid named Michael who sunk to the bottom of the pool and Calvin who sat in the hallway until he made a life-changing friend. Soon enough, the kid on the stairs was no longer slumped back but now leaning forward, eager to hear more. He was fully alert, with his phone away and a smile on his face.

What should have been obvious from the beginning then hit me. Mike Smith was not there for me. He was there for all of the kids who had grown disconnected from their pride and privilege of being a Wildcat at Redlands East Valley. Looking around the gym that day, people noticed something that has not been in a very long time. Every single student, not only the kid on the stairs, but everyone in the stands or on the floor, was proud to be at REV.

As Smith finished his presentation, students applauded his performance and everyone in the audience was smiling. A friend sitting close by stated, “Man, I always dread going to these rallies, but I’m feeling so pumped right now!” People were quoting and re-quoting the speech saying that they wanted to become do-ers in their community.

So when I heard from my friends, the “AP Corner” of the school, that they believed his message was terrible in the way that he told kids that “School doesn’t matter, I graduated with a 2.4 GPA and I made it.” I again realized that Mike Smith was not there for me. He was there for the kids who felt like they did not have a voice. He was there for the kids who struggled through school, not sure if they had a place in this world once they graduated. He was there to make people realize that there are multiple ways to help people, and to unify us as a school. He was there to turn us from “talkers” and “wishers” into “do-ers.”

As a school, it is our job to not just talk about what we are going to do as Wildcats, or we are going to wish that we had done more when we graduate. After all, it starts with “Respect,” and ends with “You.”

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