FAIRFIELD — A motivational speaker spread a positive message to hundreds of middle school students during an assembly at Lawrence Junior High School Friday afternoon.

The energetic Patrick George, of Demopolis, Ala., sprinted onto the stage before he led students through songs, games, and coordinated activities that occupied most of his hourlong presentation.

He told a series of stories from his own life, beginning with his own battle with the monsters he believed were in his closet when he was in sixth grade.

After leading students through a comedic story that, at times, seemed more like a standup comic routine than an inspirational speech, he told them that he now knows the monsters were his own fear of the dark.

“Monsters don’t go away,” he said. “They just change jobs.”

George encouraged students to believe in themselves and to help each other realize their dreams.

Early in his presentation, George asked the students to pair up for a rendition of the song “Lean on Me.” When he saw that Ben Levasseur, a 12-year-old student from Benton, had no partner, he invited Levasseur onto the stage to be his partner.

George challenged the students to practice helping each other and to make a difference in the world around them. He gave several examples of young people who had achieved success despite discouraging words from others. He also shared his sense of shame at his own behavior throughout his middle school years, when he made fun of a social outcast who, despite the taunts, has gone on to succeed in life.

Near the end of his presentation, George asked the students to think about the lyrics of the song “Lean on Me,” which encourages people to rely on each other for help and support.

“The next time someone says to you, ‘Who do you think you are?’ you tell them, ‘Who do you think you are, telling me I can’t?'”

Student Izak Collins, 12, said he was going to change his own behavior after hearing George’s speech.

“I learned not to put people down, and to lift them up,” he said.

George has given more than 1,500 motivational speeches throughout the United States and Canada, beginning when he addressed a crowd of churchgoers at his grandmother’s church when he was 5 years old, he said.

By the time he was 21, he was one of the youngest professional speakers at the National Association of Student Councils Conference.

George gave a similar presentation to Lawrence High School students on Friday morning.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287
[email protected]

 

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