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Motivational speaker talks about bullying at GMS

One of Ole Pete Key’s principle rules to GMS students was to think before one acts.

One of Ole Pete Key’s principle rules to GMS students was to think before one acts.

An uproar of dance and laugher echoed throughout Greenville Middle School’s auditorium Monday morning, but not for the usual reasons.

The student body gathered for a message from Ole Pete Key, a motivational speaker who has traveled the continent—as well as two others—delivering speeches that have impacted hundreds of thousands of lives for at least 15 years.

Ole Pete Key, whose real name is Mansfield Key III, stressed three important lessons over and over Monday morning to hundreds of students in grades five through eight.

“Calm down, think before you act and there is sunshine on a cloudy day,” Key said.

“How do you resolve conflict without violence?  How do you not join a gain because you feel like you need protection?  Those are just some of the underlying things, so instead of just honing in on one message, I tried to run three or four messages together and then they grab whatever they need.

“Because you have some students who have no affiliation with gangs at all.  You have some students who have no problems with bullying at all.  And yet they can still be sunshine on a cloudy day to someone else who’s going through something.”

The presentation itself was a mix of drama and humor that involved heartfelt stories from Key’s own past and well as a number of musical performances from some unlikely sources as Greenville Middle School’s teachers entered the fray halfway through the presentation.

Key said that there are a number of aspects of his job as a motivational speaker that he enjoys. But in his haste during Monday’s presentation, he forgot to share one of his most touching stories.

“Normally, I tell this story about a young girl who came into an assembly just like this for an 8:30 presentation on a Wednesday morning,” Key said. “We danced, we laughed and all of that.  And afterward, she came up to me crying saying ‘you changed my life. They said that they were sorry, and they apologized.’

“While she was hugging me, which was a long time, I had my wife to hug her and then the counselor pulled me to the side and said that 31 days ago the same little girl had tried to commit suicide.  She had been in an outpatient program for 30 days, and Tuesday she had just gotten out.”

That morning was her first day back at school.  And by pure chance, sitting in on that assembly very literally changed her life.

“People who had been bullying her apologized, and then she tells me that was her first time being away from people, and that she had planned to commit suicide that morning at school while they were in the assembly program,” Key added. “She saw me coming in, looking crazy, and decided to stand on the side and watch.

“And it changed her life.  That was the most gratifying.”

Key stressed during his message that none of us can help the circumstances that we were born into, but that we all retain the power to make our own choices.

“You can play the hand that you’ve been dealt,” Key said.

Remember this; you don’t have to join a certain group or act a certain way.  You can be yourself.”