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By Josh Perry
Hometown Weekly Staff
Last Tuesday, Mike Smith stood on the stage in the Lowell Mason Auditorium and spoke to two assemblies of Medfield High students. There was no Powerpoint presentation, no lights, or special effects, just Smith explaining to the students about how important it is to treat people fairly.
Smith admitted that when he walks into a room, he gets judged by many for his long hair, his tattoos, skinny jeans, and skateboard sneakers. Many people think at first glance that “he’s just a skater guy.”
Anyone who limits their observations to that superficial first glance would miss that he is also the founder of an international nonprofit organization, Skate for a Change, a renowned motivational speaker for schools and Fortune 500 companies across the country, a consultant, a brand ambassador, an adjunct professor, and more.
With a combination of brutal honesty and humor, Smith told students that they needed to escape the fear and the lack of self-confidence that plagues this generation and rather than judging everyone by who they hang out with or what clothes they wear or what grades they get to treat everyone with fairness and respect.
“The Student Council saw Mike Smith speak in Hyannis last year at the state conference,” said Student Council member Grace Crowell. “We felt that his message could really make a difference at Medfield High.”
“We thought that his perspective would allow students to reflect on what they are doing at Medfield High and ensure that they left a strong legacy at Medfield.”
Smith spoke about his childhood, growing up in a small Nebraska town without even a streetlight. He talked about how he started out as a “ghost,” someone who walked the halls feeling invisible to his classmates. He was a skateboard fan in a town that put all its focus on sports.
Before his sophomore year, Smith hit puberty, sprouted nearly a foot, and became a top athlete on the football and basketball teams. In the process, he was no longer a “ghost” but rather a star among his peers. That changed his attitude and he admitted that he turned into the type of person that he could not be proud of any more.
It took him a couple years, but as a senior Smith understood what his actions and attitude were doing to others and he changed. He was able to start appreciating others on their own merits and urged his friends to do the same.
“Mike reached out to every one of his classmates and apologized for his actions and although he could not change his past he could recognize his mistakes,” explained Crowell. “I think that kids enjoyed his message more than other speakers in the past because he was not lecturing us on what NOT (sic) to do but rather what to do.”
She added, “Mike admitted that he wasn’t always nice in high school but it was what he did as a result that makes the difference.”
Smith showed the students that success in life goes far beyond the things that most high school students are worrying about, but rather on the difference that a person can make whether it is to thousands, like he has through Skate for a Change, or even to just one individual person.
“Everyone is great at something,” said Crowell. “Students can earn the highest honors or be star athletes or have the lead in the play but those things should not matter unless they are kind to others.”
“If your passion is getting good grades, than work as a tutor, or if your passion is to play hockey teach lessons to younger kids. I think his message will help students way beyond high school.”
Crowell highlighted Smith’s final quote of the presentation. He said, “I don’t need to be the best at anything. I just want to work really hard and treat people well.”
The presentation closed with Smith taking a “selfie” with the crowded auditorium and speaking with students who approached him to shake his hand and thank him for his appearance in Medfield.
He has a powerful message and one that the students filing out of the auditorium will not soon forget.
For more information about Mike Smith, visit http://mikesmithlive.com.
Josh Perry is an Editor at Hometown Weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.