I spent all day today in our gym at school with all 120 of our grade 7 and 8 students, 30 high school mentors and 26 adults (staff and volunteer facilitators). The leaders of the program--from a local high school--took us through a series of games, activities and experiences designed to help to increase awareness of things like bullying, abuse, peer relationships and peer pressure, family relationships, making emotionally healthy choices, etc. It was, without a doubt, one of the most emotionally challenging and emotionally rewarding days I have ever had as a teacher. Students and teachers were open and honest; tears and hugs were the order of the day. We opened some painful wounds, heard apologies, and recognized that none of us are alone in challenges and pain in our lives. We learned that it's okay to reach out to others and that we have the power to make changes in our lives and in the lives of those around us. I'm exhausted, but so proud of our students. They are truly an amazing group.