CITY OF TONAWANDA — In the midst of a week marked by athletic rivalry at Tonawanda Middle and High School, motivational speaker Andy Thibodeau visited the school with a different theme to share — one of caring.
“The message is show up, participate and listen,” he told the students. “And having a reputation of being nice is a wonderful thing.”
Thibodeau, of London, Ontario, has been traveling around the country for 20 years with his humorous, yet meaningful presentations and Wednesday morning, he was the star in the first assembly with students from grades six to 12 at the new, combined facility.
Thibodeau tied his theme of “Share the Care” into the big T-NT game Friday, frequently referencing the week’s events and encouraging the students to make a “warrior” grunt loud enough for North Tonawanda to hear.
“Have them wondering what’s coming Friday,” he said.
But despite all the fanfare surrounding the game, Thibodeau made sure not to ignore other sports and school activities, and told the students to do the same.
“It’s easy to ask someone how the season’s going, like the cross country team. That’s stuff is not easy ... crappy weather and no fans,” he joked.
Thibodeau told students to go to the school musical, take part in school activities and support peers’ passions, too.
“I’ve yet to meet a teenager that doesn’t care about their band, or their performers,” he said.
Thibodeau said his father died two years ago and, at the funeral, he counted 33 people from high school that came to support him.
“So love your performers,” he said. “But also love your performers who are right here at your school, too.”
Middle and High School Principal Dr. James Newton heard about Thibodeau at a conference where he spoke.
“I loved how he had the students get up and participate, and how they got to do activities,” Newton said.