He came out in a green track suit. A minute later, he had crushed a can of soda in a sticky explosion of corn syrup. It definitely grabbed the attention of all the students at the assembly held at White Pine High School on Tuesday morning. That was exactly his intention.
“The feats of strength are just a tool to capture an audience,” Dean Johnson said, a muscular motivational speaker that advocates anti-bullying while smashing bricks with his elbow.
Johnson told stories of the many schools he has visited and the things students would tell him afterwards. One such anecdote ended with an overweight student in middle-school taking his own life due to the intense bullying he received in school.
“I would say my message to my students is to believe in yourself,” Johnson said. “Don’t allow the words of other people in your life to influence you to such a degree to take away your joy and your happiness.”
Johnson travels around the country, not collecting a dime from schools to talk to the students about how to accomplish their goals and overcome the hurdles of school life. He said that his form of payment is in the personal notes students hand him after his assemblies.
“Last week a girl came up to me after an assembly and shared with me her heartbreaking story. She pulled a sock out and in it was wrapped up was her razor that she had been cutting herself with,” Johnson said. “She said ‘I want to give you this’ and she said Dean ‘I won’t be needing it anymore.’”
The message hits closer to home than most parents and students might want to believe. Johnson said he received a note from a student after the assembly at the high school that told one girl to “give up” and “die.”
Johnson said that after speaking with the girl that she felt better about who she is. He hopes that those who wrote the hateful note will take away something from his assembly as well.