Breaking Down the Barriers Student Conference

     Great things are happening at Boaz High School!  Our Superintendent’s Leadership Team has taken on the task of changing our school climate to create an environment of acceptance of all by all.  They have worked hard on a two-day conference called “Breaking Down the Barriers.”  This conference will take place on November 25 and 26 and will have two phases. 

     Phase one will occur on November 25.  The students on the Leadership Team have lined up four speakers to share their stories of overcoming adversity and becoming productive members of society.  Speakers include Chris, a friend of Principal Gary Minnick who has overcome a serious speech impairment and now speaks publicly to tell his story; Miguel, a Hispanic who made mistakes as a youth but who has worked hard to turn his life around and become a successful businessman; Jaime, a quadriplegic as a result of a car accident in high school who now works to bring awareness to the ability to be successful no matter what the obstacles; and Paul, a businessman who will share his story of overcoming poverty to become successful and what it takes to get there.  In addition, students will participate in two team-building activities focusing on the effects of bullying.

     Phase two will occur on November 26. The Boaz Rotary Club has generously donated $2,900 so that all students at Boaz High School can participate in an assembly program called “Rachel’s Challenge,” an internationally known program with the goal of creating a culture of kindness and compassion (see www.rachelschallenge.org).   As Rachel wrote shortly before her death at Columbine High School, “I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same.  People will never know how far a little kindness can go.”   There will be pre-presentation and post-presentation discussion groups as well as a project-based time in which students will be able to share what they have learned during the two-day conference through art and writing.   The Boaz City Schools Foundation has awarded a grant of $400 for lunch and travel for our speakers as well as for art supplies.  Additionally, one hundred students and ten adults from our school and community will participate in a training to help them learn ways to spread the message of Rachel’s Challenge.  The culminating event of the conference will be a testimonial by our own Assistant Principal Patrick Williams, who will share his moving story with the entire student body.

     We are excited that our students have embraced this concept of creating change that we anticipate will reach each and every student and staff member at our school.  But our students do not want to stop at the school level.  By involving members of the community, Boaz High students want to be able to spread the word that everyone can make a difference. 

     In the spring, we hope to be able to continue to grow this movement by presenting “Chain Reaction,” which is the powerful next step in the Rachel’s Challenge Program.  This phase of the program is an intensive six-hour training with the purpose of promoting “personal introspection, understanding of others, community building and empowerment.”  In order to make this possibility a reality, we are asking individuals, businesses, clubs, industries, and churches in our community to make an investment in our youth by making donations to bring “Chain Reaction” to Boaz High School.  We must raise $4,600 in order to offer the program.  We will accept any donation, however large or small.  Our hope is that individuals will consider donating $25 - $50, businesses and clubs $50 - $100, industries $100 - $500, and churches might take up a love offering as a contribution to our cause.  If you would like to help make a difference in our school and community, you can make a cash donation or make checks payable to Boaz High School with “Chain Reaction” on the memo line.  In return for your donation, we will place the names of individuals, businesses, industries, and churches on a plaque, which we can proudly display in our school as a way of showing our appreciation to a community that cares. 

     Donations can be made in person or by mail to Boaz High School, 907 Brown Street, Boaz, AL  35957.