Students at Eastside High School gathered as a student body for the first time this school year Wednesday morning for a raucous welcome back assembly with Earl Suttle as the star.
Suttle is the founder and CEO of an employee development firm, holds a doctorate in addiction studies, has co-authored two books, delivered dozens of keynote speeches at functions of multi-million dollar companies and governmental agencies and acts as a consultant for the National Basketball League and the National Football League.
He ramped up the students' excitement for the new school year with clapping and shouting personal affirmations and then asking everyone to give at least six people around them a high-five and a handshake.
The people who greeted more than six were on the fast track to success according to Suttle and the ones who greeted less than six, needed to be bolder.
"When you learn to do more than what you are asked to do - you're going to eventually get paid more for what you do," Suttle said.
Suttle used the letters of the word Eastside High to form an acronym conveying the attributes needed to become successful, make a difference in the community and earn financial security.
"E" stands for "everybody is important." Suttle said everyone carries an invisible sign letting others know he or she wants to feel important.
He encouraged the students to respect everyone - parents, teachers and even freshman.
Suttle's "A" stands for "ask for help."
"Seniors, you're going to be making a lot of decisions this year," Suttle said. "Ask for help."
Through working with professional athletes, Suttle said he learned that people climb to the top of their career ladders by learning there is no shame in asking others for assistance.
The first "S" reminds students to "stay positive." Suttle told the students having an outlet to deal with stress - whether it be a club, team or hobby - was essential to maintaining a positive outlook.
"Take responsibility for your attitudes" was the message the "T" suggested.
"The first attitude you need to have, is an attitude of gratitude," Suttle said.
The students applauded when Suttle said the United States was the best country in the world because of the ample opportunity it provided to its citizens.
Suttle and junior James Johnson threw several tennis balls and two giant tennis balls into the audience to illustrate the second most important attitude for success-driven people to have - "a bounce-back attitude."
Life has a hard serve sometimes, Suttle said. He said the student's enthusiasm and energy for having one of the balls thrown to them was essential to coping with personal, family or academic struggles.
The other "S" stands for "seek opportunity and smile," the latter of which the animated Suttle demonstrated throughout the program.
Suttle's first "I" represents a message to "improve listening skills."
"When you improve your listening skills, people will think of you as more confident, more trustworthy and more intelligent," Suttle said.
He said sometimes even the most talkative people have to learn to zip it and open their ears.
"There's a strength to that silence," Suttle said.
The "D" stands for "discipline yourself."
"When you do what you ought to do when you ought to do it," Suttle said, "there will come a time when you're able to do what you want to do when you want to do it."
With the last "E" Suttle promoted the idea of "empowerment through positive self-talk."
He said oftentimes when people talk to themselves they focus on the negative - a mentality of 'I can't do this' or 'I'm not good enough.'
Suttle then asked for five volunteers. He allowed about 15 males to walk to the floor on their own, before asking the rest of the audience to give them a round of applause simply for volunteering.
He then gave this suggestion to students who thought about going onto the gym floor, but did not.
"Whatever held you back from coming up here might be what's keeping you from being the best person you can be," Suttle said.
The first "H" reminded students to "hang around with positive people." He said staying personally positive, if one surrounds himself with pessimists.
"Inspire other people" was the advice Suttle delivered in the second "I." He mentioned inspiring others to help others was especially important.
Suttle's "G" stands for "get other's backs," or watching out for other's well-being and lending a helping hand when someone needs it.
The second "H" carried the most important message - "hold on to your dreams."
The program ended with Suttle leading the students in a boisterous affirmation.
"I feel good about myself," Suttle said as the students repeated, "I feel good about all our classmates - an experience that will follow me for the rest of my life - because I'm going to walk with the good, talk with the good and study with the good and that's good.
"Good, better, best - I promise not to rest until my good is better and my better is best."