Mike Smith presentation assembly

PHOTO PROVIDED Central Mountain Middle School students with Mike Smith.

In February, Mike Smith traveled to central Pennsylvania for the first time thanks to IMPACT and the Keystone Central School District. The students at Central Mountain and Bucktail will forever remember their day with Mike Smith!

IMPACT is a local coalition that has been embraced by the non-profit West Branch Drug and Alcohol Commission. Together as a team since 2012, IMPACT and West Branch continue to brainstorm initiatives to help combat the detrimental issues that face our youth. With the generous grant amount of $8,700 from the Clinton County Community Foundation, IMPACT was able to help bring Mike Smith to Central Mountain.

Mike was warmly welcomed on Feb. 11 at Central Mountain Middle School, where students already had a familiarity with Mike after watching his video series, The Harbor. These educational video resources are part of the Jostens Renaissance character development curriculum. Designed for the classroom, these 3-5 minute videos feature Mike and guests showcasing tangible life lessons and providing students with real perspectives. Each video also has a discussion guide that the teachers use to foster meaningful discussions in the classroom. Mrs. Strouse, a seventh grade social studies teacher at CMMS, shared a few different videos with her classes this year and then showed a new video each day in the two weeks leading up to the Mike Smith Live presentation.

The sixth grade students at CMMS had also been engaged in a book study of Mike’s book, “Legacy vs. Likes,” which challenges readers to pursue a passion and live a purposeful and intentional life. This book encourages everyone to stop talking and start doing. To promote putting thoughts into actions, there are reflective thinking questions and personal challenges at the end of each chapter. Led by Mrs. Onuskanich, the sixth grade enrichment teacher, as well as Mrs. Davis and Mrs. Thomas, the sixth grade writing teachers, all sixth grade students were actively involved with journaling activities that correspond to the book. They also watched a different Harbor video with each lesson during the book study.

Prior to the Mike Smith Live presentations, the students at CMMS created posters to welcome Mike and bring life to the auditorium. As Mike shared his story on the morning of Feb. 11, everyone in the audience was able to connect with Mike and learn more about his journey from being a “misfit” teenager living in Imperial, Nebraska to becoming a youth motivational speaker who has traveled coast to coast around the United States and all over the world, including Italy and France. When Mike was speaking, everyone listened. Students, teachers, building staff, administrators, and guests were not only inspired by Mike’s story, but left with a feeling of love and compassion. One of Mike’s most inspiring quotes is, “Speak for the silent, stand for the broken.”

PHOTO PROVIDED Elle Christensen stands with Mike Smith holding her copy of “Legacy Vs. Likes” book.

After the presentations, Mike spent time in the CMMS cafeteria, where he continued to make connections and sign autographs. He signed everything from pieces of paper to shoes to bananas! Mike was leaving his legacy and enjoying seeing people light up with love in their hearts. He talked to the students and encouraged them to pursue their passions and chase their dreams. After lunch, Mike met with a group of 80 students in a leadership workshop. In this session, Mike shared more about his journey and discussed ways to develop leadership skills.

Giovanni Tarantella, an eighth grade student at CMMS, said, ” Mike is really inspirational and he changed our school’s mindset.” Giovanni is also a CMMS Renaissance Leader and took part in the leadership workshop. He worked with other Renaissance Leaders to plan and organize spirit days and other school-wide events to help promote a positive climate and culture in our schools. One such event was the Sock Hop in October, which supported Mike’s mission of providing socks to the homeless in our community.

Mike Smith left a very important message on all of everyone during his visit to central Pa. He taught us that there are wishers, talkers, and doers. He encourages us to not just wish about what we want or talk about the great things we want to do, get out there and do it!

The cool thing about Mike Smith is that he is a “doer” by nature. Mike is the co-founder and co-director of the non-profit, Rabble Mill, and the Founder of its programs, The Bay and Skate for Change. The Bay is an indoor skate park and youth outreach center that focuses on skating, art, music, coffee, and community. Skate for Change has over 80 chapters worldwide and encourages skateboarders to give back to their communities. Mike is also the creator and host of The Harbor by Jostens. In addition, Mike is co-founder of Find Your Grind, which is a career education platform. This platform is being utilized by the sixth grade enrichment students at Central Mountain Middle School.

Since Mike visited the district, the students have continued to follow Mike on Instagram and they enjoy watching the Harbor videos in class. Thanks to the continued efforts of IMPACT, each teacher also received a copy of Mike’s book, “Legacy vs. Likes.” Several students also received signed copies of the book as a gift from Mrs. Onuskanich, who helped plan and organize the presentations. “Getting to know Mike and meeting him in person has been such an incredible experience! I read his book in one sitting. I just couldn’t put it down. It’s definitely a book worth sharing! I hope his story will continue to inspire our students to pursue their passions and live the life they want to live. The challenge for each student is to read the book and then pass it on for someone else to read. Hopefully, his story will spread and we can all benefit from the lessons learned. As Mike would say, ‘That’s tight!'”


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