It’s not easy being 13 years old. During the middle school years, children are rapidly growing mentally, physically, socially and emotionally. Children are learning how to speak their mind – sometimes at the cost of other people’s feelings.
Eve Miller, a thoughtful and passionate seventh-grader at Maple Grove Middle School, noticed some of these growing pains at her school and saw an opportunity for herself and for her 560 classmates to improve their attitudes and behaviors. “My generation has the ability to change the world,” Eve said, and Eve’s actions are one big step in the right direction.
Eve teamed up with Assistant Principal Sara Looby-Morris and a nonprofit organization, Youth Frontiers, to bring in the Courage Retreat to their school on March 19-23. This retreat helps students commit to act courageously to make their school a better place and deepen their relationships with their peers. Each seventh-grader at Maple Grove Middle School had the opportunity to participate in the retreat’s high-energy activities; share their personal stories in small groups facilitated by students from Maple Grove, Osseo and Park Center senior high schools as well as volunteers from local business and partner LDI; and develop a plan to be more courageous moving forward.
Since November 2017, Eve organized planning meetings, handled the logistics, and raised $9,000 from her family, friends and school community to help bring the retreat to their school. Eve led the change. In her speech to all her classmates, she said, “We hear so much of all the bad things that go on in our world on a daily basis. But what we don’t hear about is courage and kindness. I believe it’s time to make a change.”
When asked what she wanted to accomplish through this retreat, Eve said, “I want my peers to zone out the bad voices and follow their dreams and keep inspiring others to do the same. I want to fill my school with courage and kindness.”
Photos: Eve Miller (top photo) smiles and encourages her classmates to be kind, positive, and most importantly, courageous. Students talk in small groups (bottom left photo) about opportunities to be more courageous. Courage Retreat staff tell funny short stories to engage students around the concepts of courage and kindness (bottom right photo).