Great conversation today with LaFargeville and Lyme Middle Schools about bullying and leadership! After waiting in the wings during a quick viewing of my Miss America talent performance - which I was too excited to actually watch - I was escorted to the stage by a beautiful young woman and good friend Joelle, Miss Thousand Island's Star Princess, who, you will see below, sports the same glamorous crown case as I. Joelle showed off her public speaking skills and introduced me for what proved to be an incredibly interactive conversation.
One student asked what to do if someone blocks them into a corner in the bathroom or stands in your way and refuses to move. We talked about how when someone is using their physical power to control or hurt you, you cannot fight back. No matter how tempted you are to hit or push, doing so will only make matters worse; teachers will have trouble determining who was the instigator, and both parties will likely end up punished. When someone bullies they are trying to get a reaction, so remember to stay calm. Also, don't go anywhere alone. Not only is it safer to have a friend with you, but it's also much more fun. It is always OK to ask a teacher or adult to accompany you in the halls if it makes you more comfortable.
After my conversation I got to visit classrooms and meet with students, including one young woman who asked me questions about pursuing acting in New York City. Rachel had recently starred in the school production of Music Man and we got all sorts of caught up in our conversation about acting.
I had the pleasure of speaking with a number of girls at today's school about the opportunity to be involved with the Miss America program. Met with the usual hesitations related to lack of interest in being categorized as a 'pageant girl', I offered a simple explanation: Every square is a rectangle, but not every rectangle is a square. Having a title does not require compliance with any preexisting stereotypes. The opportunity is your own to develop and the success and style of your year is your own to shape. This goes for everything in life.
Thanks to LaFargeville and Lyme students for a great talk today, and to the staff and Joelle for making me feel so welcome! A special thank you to Julie Bocciolatt, a teacher at LeFargeville and the mother of Miss Thousand Islands 2011, for inviting me to visit. It means so much to have the support of those within our Miss New York family.