October 23, 2017
School & Youth
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  • Marc Mero, an ex-wrestler turned motivational speaker, spoke to CBMS students about the importance of positive choices.
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    Marc Mero, an ex-wrestler turned motivational speaker, spoke to CBMS students about the importance of positive choices.

Ex-Wrestler Promotes Positivity At Chesapeake Bay Middle School

Rob Odle
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February 22, 2017

On a chilly Monday in February, students at Chesapeake Bay Middle School sat silently on the hard benches that line the open space of the school’s cafeteria. Virtually every student was focused on the front of the room where Marc Mero, a former World Wrestling Entertainment superstar, stood.

Mero, known during his wrestling days as “Johnny B. Badd” and “Wildman,” has shed his former personas and now uses his life experiences to mentor and guide children and young adults through his motivational speaking.

Mero’s visit to CBMS was the brainchild of Eva Reynolds and Michele Anderson, both members of the school’s parent teacher association. Reynolds and Anderson had seen videos of Mero on the internet and felt that he would be the perfect person to address CBMS students.

“He’s just a very powerful speaker,” Reynolds said, adding that, for many students, middle school is a difficult and challenging time. With the onset of biological as well as social changes, many students are often in need of guidance or advice, she elaborated. “We thought it was important to bring someone – not a parent or a teacher – into the school to say, ‘Let’s make positive choices.’”

Mero speaks about his own experience in life, and focuses on subjects such as bullying, suicide prevention, peer pressure and substance abuse.

Having Mero visit and speak to students is just one part of CBMS’ commitment to giving students a push in the right direction. “We just want them to start thinking about these decisions. The PTA this year has tried very hard to get some positive influences in the school,” Reynolds said.

Earlier this year, students received a lecture on social media safety from Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Wes Adams. “We’re trying to demonstrate to these kids that one decision these days is going to change things,” Reynolds explained, “so you need to make that positive decision instead of the negative one.”

Self-admittedly, Mero fell victim to poor decisions throughout his lifetime and faced death on more than one occasion due to accidental overdoses. His life was also riddled with tragedy throughout, but he is a living example that — with smart choices and a will to live a better life — an individual has the power to overcome those forces.

Mero spoke to each grade level at the school separately, allowing him to tailor each presentation to the grade level at hand. The sixth-grade presentation, for instance, was lively and positive, whereas the eighth-grade version retained much of that livelihood but also touched on subjects such as suicide.

“I know a lot of stuff probably wasn’t easy to hear — there were some tissues being passed around and a lot of tears — certainly not for everyone, but in each grade level there was definitely several kids that were visually upset,” Reynolds recalled. But, she said, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “It means that his speaking struck a chord with them, and maybe they’ll think harder about some of the things he talked about when they’re making decisions.”

Reynolds called Mero’s speech both “incredible” and “inspirational,” and said that he has a gift for speaking to students. “He speaks to the kids like they’re people. Not like they’re little kids or they’re middle schoolers – he’s speaking to them as if they’re adults,” Reynolds said.

Faculty members, parents and students alike complimented Mero’s presentation and welcoming nature, and the feeling was clearly mutual.

“The students were amazing!” Mero said with gusto. “They were very well behaved.” Mero thanked the students for being such an amazing audience and said that he was happy to have the opportunity to meet with various members of the CBMS community after his presentations. “Every student has a story. Many could relate to my life,” he said.

Though many students met with Mero in person after the presentation, some reserved their praise for social media.

“Hello Marc. I was at Chesapeake Bay Middle today I was in the seventh grade bunch and you really inspired me to be a better person and that what bad happened in the past doesn't mean you can't have a good life!!!” Taylor Huber wrote to Mero.

“I sat up front in the audience and was very much inspired by you. You made me feel amazing and it made me realize that everything I am going through will get better, so thank you very much for that,” wrote Taylor Haney.

Mero was thrilled to see that his message resonated with so many students across all three grades — as was Reynolds.

“That’s what we’re there for: to support the kids and the teachers and to make life just a little bit better,” she said.

For more information on Mero, or to invite him to a speaking engagement, visit www.thinkpoz.org.


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