Today, my StoryStrong colleagues and I had the opportunity to visit one of our pilot high schools and watch students complete their projects by presenting their personal narratives to an audience of their peers.

When we began this project I had a vision in my mind of the stories that would be developed by students but admittedly I had no idea if their efforts would match my vision. I was thoroughly impressed with the efforts presented by the students today.

This is a difficult assignment for high school freshmen. We are asking them to dig deep and be vulnerable by telling a story to their peers that shapes who they are as a person. It’s not only a difficult assignment for freshmen, it’s a difficult assignment for anybody!

While there were a few expected students that didn’t quite meet the expectations of the unit, I was so impressed by those that were willing to give themselves to the unit and share that inner story. Though a handful of students didn’t want to show vulnerability in front of their peers for fear of ridicule, it was those with the most impactful stories that earned the immediate – and sustained – adulation of their peers. Applause, whoops, hollers, high-fives, inquisitive questions, and congratulations were given to those students and stories that delivered. They truly built connections with their peers simply by sharing a story of an event or a person that has shaped who they are.

I look forward to hearing the remaining stories from students of the other three pilot high schools.

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