A’ric Jackson spends day with students

Shaheer Siddique and Evan Davis

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Recently, the school was visited by A’ric Jackson, a motivational speaker from Georgia. Jackson’s specialty is speaking to youth audiences and empowering youth via leadership tactics and powerful oration. Jackson’s goal is to prepare young people to make dreams into realities and provide the knowledge necessary for youth to thrive and lead.

Middletown DECA’s first encounter with Jackson was at the annual DECA Power Trip in Baltimore, Maryland, back in November. At the end of his speech, Jackson opened up a contest. The prize offered was a chance to have Jackson speak personally to a school at zero cost to them, an opportunity normally valued at 12,000 dollars. Advisors of DECA chapters nationwide sent emails to Jackson in order to be entered into the competition. Middletown’s DECA chapter proceeded to win the competition, and Jackson worked with the school to set up a time for him to speak to and meet with students from Middletown.

Jackson came on January 4 and was greeted by DECA members who welcomed him and told him about the school.

Jackson’s speech was given multiple times; the first wave was for freshmen and juniors, and the second for sophomores and seniors.

Jackson started off his speech by doing crowd work: a call response of clapping and dancing to ensure that the audience was engaged. This tactic explores crowd tendencies and awakens people to be alert and active. Jackson went even as far as calling out low energy people by confronting them with humor and honesty.

Jackson had three key points within his speech — not to be scared, to destroy one’s box, and to be one’s authentic self. His speech included other themes such as moving past personal struggles and making a difference in the world.
Jackson used pop culture references as touch points to connect with the students. References like to dances like the “Milly Rock” and the song “Baby Shark” made the speech more funny and interactive.

Jackson’s talent was also displayed in his transitions into and out of serious moments of emotion and lighter pieces. Jackson’s story of the relationship between him and his father at an early age brought some to tears. This combination never failed to tell Jackson’s personal story.

Jackson’s speech made students reflect on their own lives. Lauren Farrell, a junior said, “I found myself reflecting, and thinking about his three steps.”

Students learned valuable lessons and skill from Jackson’s speech. Collin Chlebowski, a junior, said, “Jackson’s speech made a lot of people realize that they should be grateful.”

Jackson stories’ from life had moments of triumph and heartbreak that caused the audience to assess their own personal experiences and make personal change through introspection and goal setting.

After the assemblies, Jackson spoke one-on-one with teachers and students. Jackson’s personal conversations, much like his motivational speeches, left people with powerful advice to use in the future.

Jackson also hosted an interactive activity for DECA members and American Studies students in the auxiliary gym. The workshop’s purpose was to help students realize their own leadership styles and those of others around them to improve net productivity and build relationships.

Teachers and students alike were touched or were left with things to think about from Jackson’s visit. DECA teacher, David Reynolds said, “I saw him three times and cried the first two.”

Through the responses of the high school, it can be concluded that Jackson’s speech provided insight as to how one can live in the best way possible while staying true to oneself and their community.

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