Do me a favor; look to your left, now your right, in front, and behind you. The people you just saw are your classmates. They feel the same things you do, they go through similar things you have, and they may understand certain things you don’t. WE are the students at Riverside High school and the residents of this community and state.
I've pretty much grown up the classic West Virginia girl. My daddy's a coal miner, Thanksgiving break was meant for deer hunting, and going barefoot is an all year 'round tradition. One of the most vivid images from my childhood is my dad coming home late at night or early in the morning covered from head to toe in coal dust. I always wondered why I couldn't hug or touch him and why all his clothes went in a separate hamper than ours; as I grew older I then realized there were many more consequences to his job than the few I noticed on a daily basis. The smell of muscle relaxer would roam through my house as he'd come home from a long day of being underground. He'd tell me how hard he had to work, how he sometimes wouldn't see the light of day for weeks at a time, and how becoming a coal miner may have been one of the worst decisions he made at the young age of 19. Being thrown from mine to mine and working his muscles to the bone were harsh on our family; the long shifts lead to not much time at home, and intense labor lead to many injuries. Through all this, my dad continues to work midnight shifts at a union mine in which he drives two and a half hours to work at, at 54 years of age. I thank God every single day that he comes home safe.
You'll learn things in West Virginia that you wouldn't experience in other states. Where else would a door be held open for you if you're more than 5 steps behind? We respect each other and live the small town life. You know you're neighbors; they know you and maybe even your quirks. I love the thought of knowing I could walk down my street and wave at anyone I see; those I know, and those I don't will throw up their hand and a smile. I’m sure we’ve all experienced this more than a few times in our life.
We are also the most compassionate group of people I have ever witnessed. When anyone is in need of prayer, love, or a friend to talk to; we're here for each other. Lately, especially in our area, we have experienced many tragedies; the most recent being the loss of some of the bravest men any of us has ever known. These men were brothers, sons, fathers, friends, husbands, and heroes and surely will never be forgotten. This loss has had an array of affects on us individually, as a school, as well as our community and state. Some of us are confused, hurt, lost for words, and dismayed; but with support and love from one another, we can become the strong group of people we know we are.
Our community has been through and overcome so much. We’ve had many fallen Warriors in the short 10 years our school has been open, and each of us have lost someone in our family that may have meant the world to us. We all know what hurt feels like, we all know how hard it is to deal with hurt, and we all know how to help each other heal the hurt. Helping each other is the simple solution to this unfortunate problem. We all have two arms, those being extremely useful for a hug, a shoulder, excellent for someone to cry on, and a smile, that could brighten someone’s entire day. Combine all these together and you’ve become an amazing support system, don’t be afraid to use this method repeatedly. Doing this could be the difference in someone feeling their worst and making it through the day.
In a nut shell, help those around you as well as help yourself through positive influence and love. Together we can overcome so much more than you could ever imagine. May your faith and friends carry you through.