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Make a difference: High-energy speaker encourages teens

Frei’s senior project brings speaker to school

Motivational speaker A’ric Jackson uses interactive techniques to bond with students at Grangeville High School Sept. 23.

Photo by Lorie Palmer
Motivational speaker A’ric Jackson uses interactive techniques to bond with students at Grangeville High School Sept. 23.


Katrina Frei

Frei’s senior project brings speaker to school

GRANGEVILLE – “This room is about to go from zero to lit in two seconds,” motivational speaker A’ric Jackson yelled to students at GHS Sept. 23.

“And that’s all because of this beautiful woman, Katrina, right here,” he said.

Jackson speaks to thousands of youth and others each year and has been to 20 states and four countries. His presentations have also been televised worldwide.

GHS student body president Katrina Frei heard him speak at a leadership conference in Boise earlier in the year and said she “knew I had to get him to somehow come to GHS.” The student council helped raise funds to bring Jackson in, including hosting a car wash.

“I hope this is as inspiring to you as it was to me the first time I heard Mr. Jackson,” she told students from not only GHS, but also visitors from Clearwater Valley Junior Senior High School in Kooskia, Nezperce High School and Grangeville Elementary Middle and Sts. Peter and Paul schools junior high students.

“Because of you, Katrina, this school will never be the same. Lives will be changed,” Jackson said.

Jackson grew up in Dixmoor, Ill., and attended the Columbia College of Chicago where he studied theater directing. At the age of 12, he became his church’s music director, a position he held for 20 years. He was a part of the music group 1-4-Christ and wrote tow published gospel songs, “God Is and “Show Me.”

A request from GHS student Scottie Calhoun caused an impromptu a capella rendition of The National Anthem by Jackson, which when he began, students automatically stood and faced the flag, hands on hearts.

— “Your legacy is not something you leave when you die. It should be something you leave every time you walk out of a room,” said A’ric Jackson. “What’s your legacy?”

Chicago-based motivational speaker and author, Jackson spoke to a gym full of students at Grangeville High School Friday, Sept. 23.

Jumping, yelling, dancing, clapping and singing were all part of the nearly two-hour interactive assembly that focused on self-esteem and being the best person one can be.

“Don’t be scurrred [scared],” Jackson spoke, with students repeating the phrase. He offered tips following that.

“Don’t be scared to destroy your box,” he told the group. “And I am not talking about your comfort zone.”

Jackson explained the box is the “one thing in life that shut you down. It was someone else’s opinion of you that became your reality. It’s a limitation you have put on yourself,” he said.

“You’re sitting there saying, ‘You don’t know me! You don’t know what I’ve been through or what I have to deal with.’ Well, you don’t know me, either!” he exclaimed.

He explained his box was created when he was 9 years old and he asked his father why he didn’t want him and received the reply, “I’m just too busy for you.”

For the next 13 years, he said, he held onto the bitterness even when his father tried to make amends.

“I hurt myself. I missed opportunities because I was not willing to get rid of my box,” he said.

Jackson told how he had gone through national auditions for the ’90s show “In Living Color,” and was set for the final audition when he once again fought with his father for trying to embrace him as his son.

“I was angry and bitter and I brought that into the audition and it was a flop. I limited myself because I was unable to let go of my box,” he said.

Jackson told the students in order to get rid of their boxes they need to acknowledge the box exists, forgive the person responsible for creating it and then “forgive yourself,” he said.

“Did you do something to someone that makes you feel horrible? Sincerely ask for forgiveness – then move on. We all make mistakes,” he encouraged.

Jackson said he is 40 years old and has “made a lot of mistakes.”

“But I’m loving my life – traveling the globe, speaking all over. I would not be doing any of this had I continued to hold myself captive for the mistakes I’ve made,” he said. “And by the way, I have an amazing relationship with my father today.”

He reminded the kids to stop working so hard to impress others.

A round of applause and hollers erupted throughout the gym when Jackson demanded, “Do yourself — and do yourself unapologetically. Remember, the haters are just people having attitude toward your successes.”

The final “Don’t be scared” bit of advice was “Don’t be scared to get to M.A.D.”

“That’s ‘Making A Difference,’” he explained. “Give 110 percent. Leave your legacy.”

“Finally,” he ended, “know you have so many avenues. Do not take that final avenue of taking yourself out of the picture. Talk to someone. Get to M.A.D.”


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