BeNiceUDJ Chapel Talks: A Step Forwards


Aidan London, Cub News Writer

On December 7th, BeNiceUDJ put on a presentation about mental health. The presentation was given by eight members of the UDJ community. Four students and four faculty members got up and spoke about their own experiences and troubles. The goal of the speeches was to communicate that people are not alone and there are supports in place in our school. 

Speaker Jackson Glover, bravely spoke about his battle with anxiety and depression after the tragic suicide of Lamont Soloman. His speech was given beautifully and moved many to tears. “Jackson’s speech opens the door to many mental health topics. This opening of doors should open to progress in mental health discussions” Lucas Arrowood 23’ stated. 

Ledarious Davis ‘LD’ spoke about his own journey through accepting his illness. He spoke about finding strength from within. He spoke very openly about his battles with suicide that inspired many. 

Mr. Coccitti, U of D Alum, spoke about his experience with anxiety. While being incredibly emotional and articulate, Mr. Coccitti spoke about how anxiety is a battle and how you need support to get through it. He preached that you need to be open and honest with the people who are closest to you and help you, as that is how you get better. “(Mr. Coccitti) presented a good balance of emotion, life experience and affirmation to deliver a great speech.” Ian Sherry told Cub Reporters. 

English teacher and Cross Country coach Ms. Duhaime gave an emotional speech about her own struggle with anxiety and depression. She spoke on how she has been through a lot and the strides she has made to be open and break the stigma around being open about mental health. She spoke confidently and bravely about her experiences and moved many. “Being a teacher at this school and being able to share her story was very inspiring. Her struggles moved her students.” Jason Brown 23’ remarked. 

Mr. Donato, U of D alumnus and college counselor, spoke about his own struggles while being at U of D. Mr. Donato gave an emotional speech about his own struggle with being open with his health. He added that the struggle is worse in communities of color. Mr. Donato moved all kinds of people in all walks of life. “Not a lot of administrators can be open about their struggles, it meant a lot. What he said opened my eyes and I learned something I didn’t know. Knowing he had that connection with Lamont hurt harder. Having connections with students means a lot and he did that. This is even more important as he went here and understands the student body.” Myles deJonghn 23’ remarked. 

Mrs. Tague, mental health champion, mental health advocate, and U of D faculty member, spoke about her journey through navigating her own mental health and the health of those she loved. She gave powerful statistics and emotional stories that brought many to tears. “It was really sweet and personal. I really loved the whole presentation. Hearing a personal story from a faculty member made me feel I had an adult to relate to and feel comfortable around” Connor London 26’ reported.

I (Aidan London) spoke about my own journey through struggling with my own mental health. People seemed to get something out of how I spoke on how the entire U of D faculty and staff wants to see you get better, how I have become my own advocate, and how asking for help is important. 

The goal of these talks was to help people understand that they are not alone. We wanted to start a conversation and I hope we have. These talks are hopefully a step forward for the mental health at the high.