We shall overcome: Mount Everett starts school year with theme of 'resilience'

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SHEFFIELD — Following school tradition, Mt. Everett started the new school year with a full day dedicated to social and emotional learning.

Now the fifth year of inviting speakers to give an address to students and staff in grades 7 through 12, this year's presentation theme was resilience.

The Aug. 30 program began with a communal viewing of the movie "Soul Surfer," a true story about Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm in a shark attack while surfing. Despite daunting odds, she did not let this impede her goal to become a professional competitive surfer.

The highlight of the day was an address by Alexa Score, which followed remarks from English teacher Jeanne Lemlin and Principal Glenn Devoti. Score, who grew up in small town Spicer, Minn., was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer while in high school, and has defied the odds by surviving for more than 10 years. She did not let her illness get in the way of her dream, which was to become a professional wakeboarder.

The story of her struggles and how she overcame them was inspiring. For example, when she was trying an experimental drug she slept for long periods, sometimes as much as 15 to 20 hours a day. Yet she achieved the status of professional wakeboarder with endorsements and roles in movies and commercials.

After the presentation, students and faculty processed the information together in small group advisory sessions. Advisories are short classes that happen once every few weeks during which the groups will revisit the theme of resilience through various discussions and activities throughout the year.

Students discussed the kinds of events that may derail them in pursuit of their goals, and how to apply the lessons learned from these two extraordinary women.

The day ended with a cookout for all, sponsored by an anonymous donor, and a field day of fun and games. It was a great way to start of the new year, with important lessons and inspiring role models that no one will soon forget.

Connor Blodgett is a senior at Mt. Everett Regional School and is an intern for the school's journalism department under adviser Jeffrey Lang.

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