by Annabelle Tang
Medford High’s Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) has once again reaffirmed the fact that Medford High is a safe-space to everyone. Described as “amazing” and”powerful” by the freshmen students, the “It Gets Better” assembly once again kicked off without fail. From a personal perspective, sitting behind the speakers and occasionally standing behind the podium myself, it was amazing. Looking to the Freshmen and thinking of how I was once in their place was astounding. This year’s assembly constituted of a few different speakers. As usual, Mr. Blauch got up and addressed the Freshmen with his no-bullying speech. Following Mr. Blauch were this year’s MCs, Michael Branley and Annabelle Tang. As the time rolled by, the speakers were announced.
The first speaker to talk was Joe Camara, Senior Football Captain. Joe gave a heart-wearing speech on acceptance, especially in athletics. Our school does not want anyone to feel left out of the metaphorical and physical conversation. That mindset does not just stop because you’re on the playing field. We urge all students to be accepting, or even just respectful, of each other even when school is not in session. We welcome all.
Arielle Pineda, a senior as well, was the next brave-soul to address the crowd of freshmen. “I like girls,” Arielle’s bold statement breaks free of her parents’ strict ways. Being who she is may not have been accepted by her parents, but she will always have a place at Medford High. She walked through her life with the harsh whispers in the back of the classroom, but she pushed through. She held her head high and held higher hopes for her high school years. It got better, yes it did. She built a positive support group around herself including her friends and the school’s GSA. Arielle is proof for everyone to see that it does get better, even if there are “kids that laugh ‘cause they have no respect,” as so eloquently put by freshman Savanna Bernier.
Hannah Rogers, the only junior, got up in front next. She spoke about her pansexuality, telling the sea of freshmen about her struggle for her father’s acceptance. She spoke proudly of wanting to go to pride with a shirt that emblazoned who she was on all sides. Her story has a wonderful ending, the ending where it gets better. Her father made this pansexual pride shirt for her and surprised her when he asked for a picture. Instead of the traditional, “Say cheese!”, he held up the camera and Exclaimed, “Say pansexual!” Taking her by surprise, she felt uncomfortable in hearing him say that label. The next sentence, however, is where she admits that she’s happy that she got her father’s acceptance.
Jovia Mirembe, the only sophomore to talk at the assembly, spoke about love. She addressed the freshmen, using a quote to convey her meaning. That “love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love,” quoted from Lin-Manuel Miranda. Her dramatic pause is what pulled the whole speech together, because she knows that love is not just a phase. Love of all shapes, sizes, genders, preferences. Love is, simply put, love.
Alum Michael McLaughlin’s story was heartbreaking all the while. To be put simply, he had to endure the cruel and crude remarks of his fellow students. To come back to Medford High and walk these halls again is something so incredibly brave. His words are powerful and so full of emotion that you can’t help but listen to his story. Yet, through everything life has thrown at him, he stands here today as another message to the masses. The message, as has been a common theme, is that it gets better.
Reverend Lambert Mahning as a newer story, a lighter story. He describes his life as something we can all relate to. A TV show. A TV show written by, directed by, and starred in by him. He recommended the show to all of us to create for our own purposes because as he watched, it got better. The message, once again, is the overarching message that is gets better.
To close the show, Mr. Milne, a history teacher here at Medford High delivered his message about a cookie-cutter society. The perfect ending of how society- the oven- cannot conform you into what you are not. Break out of your cookie-cutter jail and prove to everyone that you are your own. This year, even if there wasn’t much representation of transgender or non-binary people. For future years to come, we hope to be able to include and introduce those people in our assembly. Of course, it varies year to year, but each year it’s sure to get better.
“What it reminds me of is a rollercoaster, life is one wild ride where it has ups and downs every time you have to go from one event to another. Life is just one wild ride.”
I was extremely impressed by the presentation and moving stories. It was inspiring and really comforting for everyone. I’m also amazed by the courage of all those that stood up and told their coming out stories. To have the guts to come out, and tell an entire school about it is a brave move, and anyone who doesn’t think that is just jealous of your bravery. […] Also know I will shut down any hate I hear and anything else I can do to help make coming out for people easier.”
“I am extremely proud of everyone who told their story.”