By Douglas Maxwell Myer, Contributing Writer
Northborough/Southborough – Algonquin Regional High School welcomed motivational comedian and professional speaker Kevin Wanzer the evening of March 31.
“This evening program at the high school is pretty special,” noted Wanzer. “I mostly do presentations during school hours for students only and it’s rare to have an event open to the public for parents to see as well.”
Wanzer first began his speaking career in 1983 while attending high school in Indianapolis; his presentations consisted of encouraging people to being good leaders and living a drug-free life. Wanzer’s efforts quickly earned the attention of First Lady Nancy Reagan who founded a government fund to help further expand his outreach and give presentations on behalf of the White House. The themes of his presentations later evolved into focusing on human kindness; they have been heard across the country and around the world for more than 30 years.
Wanzer is a big believer in the Hawaiian culture and uses it in his presentations, explaining that in the culture no one is left behind or excluded; everyone is a part of a singular “ohana,” the Hawaiian word for family.
Part of his presentation includes reading a poem he wrote called “Choose to Love” which has been published in a short book accompanied by illustrations created by Kristin Tuller. The poem, he explained, first came to him in a dream one night in the 1990s. He quickly wrote it down after waking up and kept it to himself until finally having it published in 2006. A new edition has been released commemorating its 10th anniversary and Wanzer hopes
people will read and share the message with those they choose to love.
Prior to the evening presentation, during the school day, Wanzer had visited Westborough High School and then, at Algonquin, he gave a presentation to the freshmen class and to classrooms of sophomores, juniors and seniors. A number of the students invited their parents or friends to the evening presentation.
As part of the event, Algonquin’s Best Buddies Chapter, supervised by science teacher Kevin Hausmann, was honored for their outstanding achievements in creating opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Student volunteers pair up with a buddy with a disability to participate in events such as attending a Celtics game, having a St. Patrick’s Day party, running a bake sale, and making trips to other local areas. The Algonquin Chapter was selected as the 2016 Outstanding Chapter of the Year.
Wanzer thanked the Best Buddies Chapter for what they do, noting that their actions have a similar quality to his central theme of celebrating people’s differences and finding a commonality with one another.
“Any school that has a Best Buddies program says a lot about them because they have some aspect of kindness associated in the alumni,” Wanzer noted.