By Helen O’Neal, Staff Writer
// Some people can find it difficult to stay connected to the community while being isolated in their homes during the pandemic. With Acalanes High School planning to remain in distance learning for the entirety of the first semester, many students are starting to lose motivation.
Guest speaker and founder of Real Inspiration, Inc. Keith Hawkins spoke with Acalanes High School staff and students via Zoom on Wednesday at lunch about resilience and perseverance after students watched Hawkins’ motivational video on Monday during Academy cohort.
Hawkins and the Acalanes administration worked together to organize a video and a series of Zooms in an effort to improve cohort environments and inspire students.
“We really wanted to bring connectedness into cohorts between [students, staff, and the community]. Keith is just a facilitator to help us do that. We wanted to take time out to provide some dialogue, insight, and opportunities for students to further connect during the Monday cohorts. It is always so important but especially at this time,” Leadership teacher Katherine Walton said.
Hawkins’ video from Monday pushed many students to be interested in the Zoom on Wednesday.
“I was so inspired [by the video] and realized how great of a speaker he is. The things he said were so powerful and had so much value, so I couldn’t wait to go to his live talk. Before the video, I had no idea who he was, and after, I felt like I had known him my whole life,” sophomore Kaitlyn Keely said.
During the Zoom, two student facilitators guided the conversation with questions collected from the student body.
“I chose to be a facilitator because I saw that Keith had a great story. I wanted to try and help the Acalanes community by asking questions that they might be afraid to ask,” student facilitator and junior Evan Malmquist said.
Many students and staff enjoyed hearing Hawkins talk more about his personal experiences and what he learned from them.
“I liked that I got to learn more about Keith and how he was relating [his message] and past experiences. [The event] made me more aware of things I would not normally recognize and that I should communicate more with friends and family. I learned about what is important and what is necessary, especially with life right now,” sophomore Ashley Donner said.
Hawkins will be hosting more discussions throughout the month, and he hopes they will help bring the community together during the pandemic.
“I want everyone to know that in order to get through these difficult times we need each other. Words of encouragement to those you know and don’t know helps tremendously. This will help create a community of care, which is so important during virtual learning,” Hawkins said.