Chris Herren Addresses Milton About Addiction
by Rebecca Chernick on Friday, October 11th, 2013Chris Herren addressed the Milton community on October 2nd, 2013 as this year’s Samuel S. Talbot II ’65 Memorial Fund Speaker for Counseling and Community Issues. For almost an hour, students and faculty were captivated by Herren’s story.
Former Celtics player Chris Herren chronicled his journey from Fall River, Massachusetts to the Division I college basketball courts and eventually the NBA. However, he explains that all of this success was marred by a fourteen-year struggle with substance abuse and addiction. Much of Herren’s influence came from his remarkable candor and ability to relate to the Milton community. Told with great detail and emotion, his story, beginning with his high school “red Solo cup” days and narrates his bouts with heroine and pain-killers, left his entire audience contemplating the effect of drugs and alcohol on their lives.
Milton’s Director of Counseling Lisa Morin remarks, “I thought Mr. Herren was a dynamic and powerful speaker.” Athletic Director Lamar Reddicks enjoyed the speech as well, explaining “I’ve been lucky to hear Chris Herren speak three times, and each time I hear him I feel captivated like it was the first time all over again. He’s one of the most powerful speakers I’ve ever heard.”
Mr. Reddicks was not alone with this thought. Claire Russell (I) says, “The talk was extremely powerful,” adding that she “appreciated the way he told it truthfully and didn’t seem to exaggerate or sugar coat any of his story.” Alison Garber (II) agrees, “It was not only a very well-delivered speech, but the content was so powerful that I would definitely consider it one of my favorite speeches I’ve ever heard.”
Alison explains, “Even when I left the gym, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.” Other students and faculty felt the same, as the third period question and answer session with this speaker had an enormous turnout. After over thirty years teaching at Milton Academy, History teacher Mark Hilgendorf says, “Never, never have I seen us turn away so many students who could not even get into Straus third period.”
“His goal when he gave his first speech was to change one person, and I’m guessing he’s now changed thousands of lives,” noted Mr. Reddicks. ISS member Victoria Parker (I) has certainly been affected. She says, “I thought that Mr. Herren was the most powerful speaker I have ever heard during all my four years at Milton. I think he really got through to a lot of people. It is extremely impressive that he can take such a horrible part of his life and make it into such a positive avenue to help out young kids.”
Maddie Warwick (I) says, “The fact that people were leaving in tears supports his goal to be an inspiration. He is an inspiration to everyone, not only to the people dealing with substance abuse. He had an amazing message that I think everyone should value.” Dr. Selter, a member of the Milton Academy Counseling team, emphasizes, “I do not want [the community] to think it is just a Drugs and Alcohol speech.”
He continues, explaining the themes of Herren’s life that are so worthy of holding on to: “The power of choice, understanding why we make the decisions we make, recognizing how many people are affected by our actions, how asking for help is hard, actually following through with it is harder, second and third chances exist, protect and care for your friends, and believe that just being you is enough.” These life lessons presented by Herren’s speech are significant and apply to every listener.
From a counseling and educational standpoint, Dr. Selter hopes the dialogue will continue. “I want people to keep talking about it and to think about how do we continue to use this message and this energy to promote making good choices and promote healthier living on our campus and beyond.”
Dr. Selter’s wish will most likely come to fruition, as Herren clearly captured the attention of this vast audience. Claire states, “I definitely believe that the community was genuinely touched by all that he had to say, and I think we should all be really honored that he came to speak.” Mr. Reddicks also believes that “his impact will be felt for a long time.”
Ms. Morin reminds students that “Mr. Herren mentioned several times how he wishes he listened to others who tried to get him help. He said how he wishes that he listened to his own assemblies on drugs. He realizes that the students have a world of opportunity in front of them and wants others to not make the same mistakes.” Herren’s speech has definitely shared themes that can apply to us all.
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=5183