Live to Be Testimonial - Teacher, Waukon High School

"I would just like to let you know that your program can make a difference in some people’s lives. First off, a little background on Waukon. Waukon, Iowa is a town of about 4,000 people in a VERY rural area – the closest metropolitan area is over 1 1⁄2 away. Waukon is located in Allamakee County and has the highest poverty rate in the state of Iowa. The first impression from the students was ”wow, someone from a TV show actually came to Waukon to talk to us”. I believe that this made our students feel important enough that someone like him would come and talk to them. This gave our students a feeling of self-worth which is something that substance abusers lack. 

His message was one that unfortunately can be related to by a large percentage of our population. We have an increasing population of drug users in our community, but we have been a county where alcoholism has been a problem for generations. We have so many of our students that substance abuse is a part of their daily lives. The day of the assembly I was watching the student body and picked out a couple of students that I was hoping would be listening to his message.

One of the students is one that I have developed a relationship with after her father committed suicide at the beginning of the school year last year. He was an alcoholic. Her older brother had been arrested the year before for possession of drugs, once in school. I had noticed that she had a boyfriend for the first time this year and he is from the alternative school and I do not know him. Because he is in the alternative school I was concerned as to where he might lead her.

At the end of the assembly she was the first person to come down and shake Jared’s hand. She also attended the concert that night with her boyfriend and another student from the alternative school. This morning before school I asked her how she liked the concert and she told me that she thought it was awesome. Then she asked me if I noticed that she was the first person to shake Jared’s hand after the assembly and I said yes. She told me that she had told him she respected him.

She was a student I have been watching as I felt she might have been on the line like Jared was watching his older brother do drugs and saying he would never do it and then ended up doing them himself. She is a great kid but I think that she has family pressures that could lead her to make poor choices. Thank you to Jared for reaching her.

I also had students in my homeroom share stories and open up to me about things that they never had before the assembly. I had a student that was pretty quiet about his family for the past few years share that his brother had robbed a bank. In a small community everyone knows who your brother is, I know he has struggled with his family and past and it was great to see him feel comfortable to open up about it. I had a foster student open up about where she was born and I know that she was a victim of abuse. Neither of these students has ever opened up about these issues until after hearing Jared speak.

Another student sent this quote to me in an e-mail. 

'I enjoyed the whole thing. It actually was amazing because I would love to one day have some part in a music career even if it’s just something small. He encouraged me to work harder on learning guitar. I'm very glad he came and I would be excited for him to come back.'

If you have any doubt that your money is being well spent, please put those doubts to rest. I feel that our students really listened to Jared and hopefully it will make a difference for some of them. I realize that some students maybe relating to him, because their parents are substance abusers. On the other hand, it will be students that are already substance abusers themselves that may see that they don’t have to become a loser and that you can change and become successful.

Thank you again for bringing Jared into our school."

– Teacher, Waukon High School