Seminar teaches students how to take control of their lives

The world around us isn’t getting any easier or less challenging, and uncertainty in one’s future can certainly cause a lot of stress. For school principal Eddie Medina of G. Holmes Braddock Senior High School, learning how to take control of one’s life with positive thinking is one of the many concepts he shared in his first seminar, titled “Life’s Lessons,” on May 19.

Inspired by Oprah Winfrey, Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle and many more, Mr. Medina created a seminar that fully embraces every aspect of someone’s life; covering topics that include everything from the cost of college, universal laws, leadership, stress control, goals and responsibility to early adulthood.

“It’s been my dream to be able to do this, and I’ve gotten the support from everyone,” Medina said. “My biggest message is to let students think about their lives and who they are.”

At least 71 registered students ranging from freshmen to seniors attended the seminar. As part of their agenda, students were provided a breakfast and lunch, and a “Life’s Lessons” booklet that included written activities, a yearly checklist and a list of website resources to help guide those students who are college-bound.

Medina considers his seminar to be a “first of its kind.”

“This encompasses the whole person,” said Medina. “We get into the six pillars of character, we talk about the things that affect them, where they want to go in life and what they need to do to get there.”

Students were able to apply the lessons in an interactive method by partnering in teams to engage in conversation to test their communications skills, and they wrote thank-you notes to express their gratitude toward someone special at their school.

And instead of cellphones becoming a distraction during the seminar, they became a practical tool; Medina creatively asked students to vote on a Q&A poll-type website by texting what stresses them out the most. The results immediately displayed on the projector screen, and the majority voted their parents as their cause of stress.

Medina also taught students how to practice “the progressive muscle relaxation technique” by lying on the floor with an inflatable pillow while listening to relaxing music and releasing their physical stress.

“Your mind is wired to think constantly — take a moment, breathe in and out and clear your mind,” said Medina as he instructed students.

For Betsy Trujillo, 17, the seminar not only provided her with useful information, but the lessons became invaluable for her to apply in her everyday life.

“This is different from what our teachers tell us every day in class. Instead of it being about a test we’ll have tomorrow, here they focus on telling us about actual life,” said Trujillo. “ It’s really unique.”

And as the seminar came to an end, Medina gathered his students outside of the media-center library for a surprise game activity with a twist.

A group of volunteers teamed up to play a game from one of the lessons, the “FISH philosophy,” which consists of four simple ways to live your life — to be emotionally present; to make someone’s day; choosing a positive attitude; and being able to “play” by tapping into one’s creative natural way of being.

Each team placed their clear gloves in preparation for the game; suddenly, Medina revealed the surprise as he opened a red cooler and pulled out a large fish dripping in water. Many gasped in shock, while others laughed and covered their noses from the “fishy” smell.

The concept of the game: to throw the fish to the other team member without dropping it and to have fun.

During the last few seconds of the game, as it narrowed down to two teams, one of the students, Vanessa Suarez, 17, in an attempt to catch the fish in mid-air, squatted like a professional athlete, caught the fish and was declared the winner.

“I really felt like a baseball player when I caught that fish,” said Suarez. “The seminar was very inspiring, and it’s leading us to do great things; it really shows how much Mr. Medina cares about us, and I had a lot of fun.”