Nicolas Bennet

Oklahoma Student Change Maker Fall 2018
John Marshall HS, Oklahoma City Public Schools, OKC

Thank you. I grew up in Oklahoma City and attended elementary school with predominantly white students. I remember students often discussing rumors that John Marshall was a terrible school. My parents raised me to be accepting of people….all shapes, sizes, colors. I decided to give it a chance even though I was not very outgoing. I can say now, I love John Marshall, I cannot imagine any other school being better.

In 8th grade I had a choir teacher who asked me and another student to help with stage tech. He thought I would be good at it and the student, who was much more outgoing than me, encouraged me and we became great friends. Choir and theatre tech made me who I am. I was still quiet, but I had a passion and I was starting to find my voice.

This semester my government class decided to focus our project on mental health and teen suicide. I had initially wanted to work on a different project, but when I heard my fellow students, many of them the popular kids, telling stories of friends and family who had ended the lives after feeling isolated, I could relate to the isolation but never considered it would end so tragically.

What I enjoyed about Generation Citizen was “we got to talk about our experiences and share our opinions”. It wasn’t about waiting to be called on or having the right answer. Sometimes we did not agree. It was civil, not rude or insulting. I also learned a lot from people who I don’t usually talk to instead of just sitting on the sidelines.

I started John Marshall unsure of myself and the value I brought to my school. Generation Citizen has accelerated my confidence in participating and talking about what I care about. So, to all of you students, even the ones like me who often stick to yourself and small group of friends, get more involved. Get in more conversations and say what you know needs to be said. Thank you.”