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East County Friday, Jan. 24, 2020 1 month ago

Love can't hurt in East County

Braden River Middle School hosts an assembly to urge its students to "Carry the love."
by: Liz Ramos Staff Writer

The message at Braden River Middle School on Jan. 24 was clear: Carry the love.

Hope Assembly Initiative, which is a series of school assembly programs that creatively address many of the prevalent issues youth are facing today, hosted the Carry the Love assembly at the middle school to encourage students to “rise up and choose to carry the love on their campus.”

“I think this is a message that every single student needs to hear,” said Zack Discua, a team leader and speaker with Hope Assembly Initiative. “A lot of times there is a longing and a desire for [students] to actually be like, ‘I really want to see change on my campus,’ but they don’t necessarily feel empowered to do it, or they don’t feel like they have the skills or qualifications to do it.”

During the assembly, members of the Hope Assembly Initiative shared personal stories.

Neil Massaro, a member of Hope Assembly Initiative, which was founded in Egg Harbour, N.J., said he “hid behind a mask” growing up, and when people asked how he was, his reply was always, “I’m good,” even though he wasn’t. He finally told his mother the truth about how he was feeling, and then he felt loved.

Massaro encouraged students to be honest and vulnerable with family and friends.

Principal Kimberlain Zenon-Richardson said the assembly’s message can help not only on the school’s campus but in the community as well.

“[Hope Assembly Initiative] helps students understand that no matter what they’re going through, they still have the power to share love,” she said. “It’s the one thing we all have in common, that we can share love and make a difference in society.”

Yaria Spears, a seventh grader, said she hopes the assembly helped any students who feel vulnerable but felt they couldn’t speak up about their concerns. As the school year continues, Spears is going to sit next to students she doesn’t know very well and talk to more students.

“I want to make sure people feel like they can speak to others and not have to hide themselves,” Spears said.

On Monday, students received a booklet that provides 10 practical ways they can be kind to one another. Zenon-Richardson said that for 10 days, the school will focus on showing love all over campus and the community.

“I’m hoping that once kids get a chance to show love and make people happy, that’ll become a habit for them and just a way of life,” she said. “I think it can change, basically, the course of the rest of the year as we focus on loving yourself and giving love.”

Marleigh Mruk, a seventh grader, hopes there’s more love and respect among students and less drama on campus as a result of the assembly.

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