Motivational speaker influences students


Erica Gudino, Viewpoints Director

Wes Moore, a motivational speaker, came to FHS on March 14 to speak about his journey from a troubled youth to become a White House fellow, a Rhodes scholar, and a decorated Army officer.
In 2010 he wrote the bestselling novel The Other Wes Moore, a true story of two boys with the same name, who grew up blocks away from each other, but whose lives took completely different turns; one is currently serving a life sentence for murder, while the other seeks to make a difference in the lives of young people.
Moore said the decisions that are made in our lives are just as important as the people in our lives who are helping us make those decisions.
“People are striving in the line of greatness [every day] and they don’t even know it,” Moore said. “There are Wes Moores that exist in every one of our communities and every one of our schools: People who might not look like this, might not speak like this or [who are] from another part of town or country. It’s about who we define as the others, and what we’re willing to do to make them feel a little less ‘othered.’”
The PATH foundation was responsible for bringing Wes Moore to FHS. Director of Communications Amy Petty said that his message that decisions can have such a lasting impact is important.
“As high school students, you’re faced with so many decisions, so many pressures,” Petty said. “The PATH Foundation hopes Wes will inspire students to give more weight to the choices they make, as well as gain an appreciation for how important is it to have the support of strong mentors.”
English teacher Cynthia Pryor said that Moore’s journey inspired her, and she loved the way he honored students’ questions and aspirations.
“He’s incredibly intelligent and articulate; but even more important, he’s compassionate. He demonstrated a head-heart connection that I think we should all aspire to,” Pryor said. “His life is a resounding affirmation that we can choose to walk in the light.”
One thing that Moore wants readers to take away from his book is the realization that the story is more than just about two kids who went in different directions.
“Whether you realize it or not, people are modeling themselves after you, and using [your voice] wisely is going to matter,” Moore said. “Who it is that we chose to stand up for will be the greatest definition that we have about whether or not we have lived up to our expectations.”
Freshman Aileena Slafter approached Moore after the presentation and told him how much he inspired her.
“It’s my dream in life for someone to come up to me and tell me how much I’ve inspired them,” Slafter said. “Coming from a variety of living situations that are not ideal, [it was reassuring] to know that someone who came from a place like that and worked themselves up can do something like that. It gave me an inspirational feeling that I can’t quite explain.”