City Social Magazine

SEP 2014

City Social Magazine in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

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17 "She had blue skin. And so did he. He kept it hid And so did she. They searched for blue Their whole life through, Then passed right by― And never knew." –Shel Silverstein "Last year, one of the teachers in middle school approached me about a writing project for our stu- dents. The class read the poem 'Masked,' by Shel Silverstein," said Terri V. Wallis, principal of Christian Life Academy (CLA) in Baton Rouge. In the poem, two people search for someone like them, hiding their "true blue" selves. "Our middle school students were moved by the irony the poem conveyed," said Principal Wallis. "Many of the students were discussing recent news articles about how bullying has become a problem at other schools. The teacher, Mrs. Benedetto, suggest- ed that they express their feelings in writing. This book project was born out of the desire of our middle school students to encourage other students to be confident in showing their true identities. Our hope in compiling the book UnMASKed was to empower oth- ers to be who God created you to be." In his article in Psychology Today titled "Surviving (Your Child's) Adolescence," Dr. Carl Pickhardt describes it as ". . .that 10 to 12 year period of social and psychological growth that transforms the depen- UnMASKed—Uncovering the True Blue You Christian life Academy's middle School Students Pen a Self-esteem Book Complete with pictures of each student, UnMASKed is a compelling 71-page collection of the heartfelt expressions by the young CLA students who, in their own words, explain the importance of achieving self-esteem as well as of inspiring others to recog- nize the pride that comes from being themselves. By rosalind tuminello dent child (beginning in late elementary or early middle school) into a functionally independent young adult in his or her early to mid twenties. Developmental insecurity and early adolescence go hand in hand." So often, children are weighed down with doubts and insecurities and search for a way to gain respect from others. Like the students who penned their feelings in UnMASKed, they soon realize that demonstrating self- esteem and pride in themselves will gain respect from those around them. The middle school children of CLA discovered that by put- ting their feelings about identity and self-image into this booklet, it was possible to bring aware- ness to the challenges they face fitting in. Complete with pictures of each student, UnMASKed is a compelling 71-page collection of the heartfelt expressions by the young CLA students who, in their own words, explain the importance of achieving self-esteem as well as of inspiring others to recognize the pride that comes from being them- selves. Their writings display wisdom beyond their years, simple and sincere, giving adults a peek into the impressionable minds of our young. Some of the UnMASKed authors touched on striv- ing to be leaders and to stay true to their beliefs. J.C. offered this perspective, "Take off your mask and show your inner self; be authentic." T.C. quoted Coco Chanel, who said, "The most courageous act is to think for yourself—Aloud!" C. A. said, "If you hide your blue skin (uniqueness) others will not notice what you are really like." "As the principal of CLA, I am very proud of my students and their ability to be empathic concerning the very real and disheartening problem of school bullying," said Principal Wallace. "One of the stu- dents expressed it correctly when he said, 'If we all just looked within others and not at the outside, we could find so many more friends.' At CLA, we have removed our masks and have uncovered the beauty of individuality."

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