What does it mean to have respect for others, and what does it mean to have respect for yourself?
These are the questions a group of high school freshmen encountered this past Friday when Youth Frontiers visited Redwood Falls to talk about these issues.
More than 170 students from RVHS, Ced-ar Mountain and Springfield gathered together to learn about the concept of respect as part of the integration program the schools have implemented in an effort to help students learn about culture change.
“It’s easy for students to get caught up in shallow behaviors,” said Joe Beckman, one of the Youth Frontiers presenters. “What we want to do is help them find ways to break free from that cycle.”
Beckman and Jon Herchert spent much of the day with the freshmen and other high school student leaders providing students with the tools they would need to stand up for what is right and to do it intentionally.
“Standing up and showing respect is an everyday process,” said Beckman, adding the hope is after a while the students have done it so much it becomes second nature.
Youth Frontiers, which is a non-profit entity, has spent the past 25 years helping to build the character of young people through its one-day retreats, and over the years thousands of students have heard the message about making those cultural changes.
Beckman talked with the students about the chain of command in schools where students at the top of the chain often get there by making sure those at the bottom of the chain never try to climb up to the next level.
Beckman said he knows there are people in each of those schools sitting there that day who fall at different levels of the chain of command, whether they are at the bottom or the top, and he knows there are people at the top who have done things to humiliate others in order to get to the top.
“You are each here for a reason,” Beckman said. “Some of you are here because you are the person at the top who has done things to get there that have pushed someone else down, and some of you are here because you have been pushed down. You all have the ability to make the kind of change necessary to make things right.”
Beckman said it should never take a tragedy in any school for eyes to be open to the realities which are going on every day.
What it takes for eyes to be open is a willingness for people who are willing to stand up and help initiate the kind of change that can make a difference.
Page 2 of 2 - “No one has the right to put another person down,” said Beckman. “So stop being such a jerk, and stop it today.”
Beckman said it is important for the negative cycle to end, and the only way that can happen is if people are willing to stand up for what they know is right.
Beckman challenged the Class of 2016 to consider its legacy and to determine to finish high school strong.