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Cincinnati City Councilman Christopher Smitherman's Advice to Whitaker Elementary Students: "Think Big"

Posted on: April 29, 2016

Whitaker Elementary teacher Janelle Sowders heard Cincinnati City Council member and Cincinnati NAACP President Christopher Smitherman give an inspiring speech to students at another school and wanted the same thing for her students at Whitaker. She issued an invitation: Councilman Smitherman accepted.

These are the eight "life lessons" Mr. Smitherman shared with Whitaker sixth graders:

1. Speak kind words. "You have to understand that the things you say to each other matter. You don't want to be that person who says something that another person spends their entire life getting over."

2. Manners matter. "There is nothing like snapping off a 'Yes, ma'am" and 'Yes, sir.' That's a lost art."

3. Appreciate where you come from and where you are. "You have a wonderful place to come and learn here at Whitaker. Make sure you cherish it and make sure you protect it."

4. Be bold. "You're going to go to seventh grade next year, and it's OK to have some fear about that. But you have to face your fears. You must be willing to take risks. And you have to be willing to fail."

5. It isn't all about you. "I tell young people all the time that we can't always be takers. I think Americans have become so self-absorbed."

6. First impressions matter -- and second, and third. "Understand that everything you do is an interview."

7. Take your studies and your duties seriously. "I tell my children every morning, 'It's time for work, not play.' Your grades are very important."

8. Share somebody's load -- including at home. "Everybody in this room has somebody in their lives who loves them. I want you to blow that person away by seeing something in the house that needs to be done, and doing it. Sometimes the best moves you can make are right at home."