Emmy Award-Winning Speaker Urges Downers Grove Students to 'Live Freely, Love A Lot'

Students at North High were treated to a special assembly Friday, with guest speaker Mark Scharenbroich offering his take on life, love and self-respect.

Students and staff at Downers Grove North High School enjoyed a unique all-school assembly Friday featuring Emmy Award-winning motivational speaker Mark Scharenbroich.

The assembly—sponsored in part by the North High Parents Club, Jostens and Boom Entertainment—focused on Scharenbroich's two secrets for making the most of high school: live freely and love a lot.

Highlighting the transformation most students experience between freshman year and graduation, Scharenbroich encouraged students to embrace their interests and passions, and become engaged members of the Downers Grove community.

"At what other time do we see so much change and growth in such an incredibly short period of time?" Scharenbroich said. "I believe this is the first time in your lives you have the power to choose your own path. For the first time, you define who you are, and that's significant."

Following the assembly, several students and teachers said the assembly was one of the best the school has ever had.

"I've been teaching for 18 years, and he's by far the best speaker I've ever seen," Demetrios Pappageorge, an English teacher at North. "The way he was able to weave humor and personality into all of his points was really great. I feel motivated, and I think the students do as well."

Based in Minneapolis, Scharenbroich has gained worldwide recognition as a speaker whose unconventional approach, humor and personal stories resonate with audiences. He has addressed more than 3,000 school districts across North America, according to District 99 officials.

Downers Grove North Principal Scott Kasik first met Scharenbroich years ago while teaching at Deerfield High School. Kasik was so impressed, he knew he wanted to bring him to North.

"The way he connects with kids is really unique," Kasik said. "Whenever he speaks, it's a positive and effective way to get the students engaged with their school."

Following the assembly, Scharenbroich had a small-group session with about 100 students, all of whom were selected by their teachers for their leadership qualities and skills. The group talked about ways they can improve the school, and get other students more involved.

Kasik said the activity fit perfectly with the school's "Positively North" mission, which aims "to foster and promote a positive school climate that enhances student learning through teaching and recognizing positive behavior."

"In order to move forward, we need students to take a leadership role," Kasik said. "The hope is that Mark's message will help us create a culture where students feel connected."

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