For students at East Marion High School Monday, the Say Something Assembly Monday wasn’t about statistics, wasn’t about hidden dangers on the internet, wasn’t about anything most people think when it comes to an assembly. It was simply about “say something.”
The hour-long, high energy program held the attention of the students as three people through laughter, failure, honesty and compassion spoke about reaching out to each and every one in the audience with words of encouragement.
The Kiwanis Club sponsored the series of events this week. They began Monday at Jefferson Middle School and East Marion, continued Tuesday at Columbia High and then Columbia Academy for a parent assembly and concluded Wednesday at West Marion and CA.
The program Monday at East Marion began with hip-hop artist DJ Cadillac, otherwise known as Bo Trebotich of Jackson, to the delight of the students. He described how he started off as a young man who had a bright future all lined up, a future that included a full scholarship to play college sports.
“He was getting ready to have a life; some of you are getting ready to have that same life,” he said.
He described the guy as the class clown who always had something funny to say and wanted to make people laugh. Trebotich reminded them while there was nothing wrong with that to remember what we do in life has a consequence to it. Referring back to the young man, which he later identified as himself, he said when it seems like everything falls in place, one can feel too proud and think nothing they can do will mess themselves up now.
Trebotich said before heading off to college he did something really stupid, played a joke and it cost him; instead of going to college, he went to prison. He made a terrible decision. Continuing Trebotich said he didn’t go to jail one time, but multiple times. He didn’t have any friends to ask him what was he doing, or help him to get straighten up. He blamed the world instead of himself.
“Some of you feel like the world is against you; you feel like you are by yourself in this world. Today I am going to tell you, you are wrong,” he said.
Trebotich eventually got his life together and went after fame and fortune. When he mentioned his stage name, the students started murmuring among themselves. He told the audience how he had signed with one of the biggest record labels and partied with some of greatest hip-hop artists. He talked about how he was a young man from Jackson performing all around the world, sometimes in front of 30,000 people.
“People said I couldn’t make it because of my skin color in the hip-hop world and I made it to the top. So don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t make it. Don’t let your circumstances define you. What you are going through today does not determine who you will be tomorrow,” Trebotich said.
He said even though he became famous, he learned that fame was not only fleeting, but so are the friends. Even in the fame he knew he didn’t have any real friends. Once the record label dropped him, those friends were gone.
He decided to attempt suicide, thinking no one really cared. He felt like he had messed up his youth and adult life. What else was there to do?
“Unfortunately, in this room many of you have thought that. Many of you have already thought that you cannot get of the situation you are in,” Trebotich said.
“Even though it was a bad day, it is not a bad life,” he said.
Next Leah Daughdrill told her story.
“Some of you have gone through some things; you’ve been abused. School used to be a place when you can come to get away from everything,” she said.
Daughdrill shared how she was raised by grandparents because her mother was a drug addict all of Daughdrill’s life and she didn’t know who her father was. She said her grandparents did as best as they could; however, her grandfather was the town drunk and her grandmother worked a lot and was addicted to prescription drugs. Her grandmother tried to hide her addiction but sometimes ended up taking it out on Daughdrill.
She said she looked forward to going to school to get away from home and the family full of addicts. Living in a small town, everyone knew her family’s business.
“I was bullied for two things I couldn’t choose: my skin color and family,” she said.
Eventually after making some friends she became involved in softball. Not only did it help her escape her home life but also provided with a support system. She worked as hard as she could playing so she could get a scholarship and leave town.
Daughdrill said a family member gave her her very first prescription drug. To her she became just like everyone in the family, a drug addict. She accepted she would never been anything except like her mother. She was now a prescription drug addict.
“The moment I accepted that drug, I accepted failure,” she told the audience.
In her senior year, her softball coach sat her down and told her she had to get herself straightened out or she would no longer be able to play on the team. There were quite a few colleges looking at her for softball, but she chose to do what she was comfortable with and stayed in her addiction, losing all chances for a scholarship and was kicked off the team. All of her dreams were gone.
One day she was laying on the couch suffering drug withdrawals with no desire to get high; her grandmother had died from a drug overdose and several family members as well. She realized she was the next one. She decided she wanted to do something different.
She joined Teen Challenge of Mississippi, and she said in that place she found herself. Daughdrill said it was because someone believed in her. Someone took the time to sit on the floor with her while she cried and someone would just listen to her.
Travis Dumond spoke next and took the point of the assembly home.
“I want to release you to dream, to say, ‘Why not me?’ Dream some big dreams,” he said.
Dumond encouraged the students to change the world. If something moves you to step up and do it. If it is moving you, you have the passion that it takes to make the change for the better. There are stuff in this school that you feel needs changing why not say something.
Dumond shared his story playing basketball in the seventh grade. He said he was a big fellow and all the team had was hand-me-down uniforms. The team did not have one in his size so he was told to take the uniform to the home economics teacher to make it bigger. The teacher forgot about it and it was game day. She told Dumond 15 minutes before the bus was set to leave for the game she would have something to him before the team left and she did.
Once he got to the game to put his uniform on, the uniform was cut on the side with the stretch waistbands of four pairs of men’s underwear attached to hold the uniform together. While he made seven points that game, he was laughed at, heckled and made fun of.
Sitting on the bench outside his school once the team got back, he was feeling dejected and humiliated. Eventually his father’s truck pulls up; normally it was his mother who came, but this time it was his father. Dumond said he never lifted his face up, just stared at the ground. His father stretched out his hand to help him up. He accepted his father’s hand and his father pulled him to his feet and hugged him and told him he was proud of him, scoring seven points and having a great game.
The main point of the program was not being afraid to say something. To be the encourager, to help a friend who may have gone astray. To say something to the teachers and coaches when you some advice. To allow others to speak positive over you and to you and let them help guide you in the right directions or even you being the one to speak positive over them.
Daughdrill said when she was speaking, “My coach reached out to me. I chose not to listen. What if I had listened?”
At the end of the assembly all of the teachers lined up on the gym floor with arms outstretched and all the students ran to them and hugged on them in appreciation.