When I first started this project, I had more downers than believers. Most people don’t like to see something new, and happiness has never been chosen in the 45 years that this project has been run. My 8th grade class was assigned the task to find a problem in our community and take a step to solve it. We had to write an essay, come up with an action plan to help solve this problem, and give a final presentation at the end. I couldn’t find the right topic for me, but then I took a look around me. Students looked miserable and stressed trying to find their right topic, and half of them ended up doing childhood obesity or high school dropouts. But I saw something different. Those miserable kids gave me the idea to do happiness in my school, something that had not once ever been done before. When I told my teacher about my idea, he got angry and said, “This project cannot be done, it is a joke.” Him telling me it can’t be done… that made me do it. However, about a quarter of the way into the project, I almost gave up. I couldn’t find any information, no one was willing to help me, and I was all by myself. I was on the verge of failure. Then I came across a website, PursuitOfHappiness.org. I thought I might as well shoot them an email, even though my previous 8 attempts to contact professionals didn’t work. I didn’t expect a reply, but I sure did get one. Allison Holzer not only replied, but was more than willing to take her own time to ensure my success. I learned about the 7 habits of happy people and applied that to school. She expanded my thoughts to think realistically and what factors truly affect happiness. Allison Holzer saved me. I started to have my own ego with my project, I started to feel confident. Best of all, not only did I have to do this project, but I ended up wanting to do it. I organized all my ideas and wrote a formal essay about the happiness of Central Middle School. It seemed that no one believed happiness was a real issue and people thought that the administration and staff of CMS cared about the students happiness, when in reality that was false. So I took the first step in solving my problem… proving that it actually is a problem. With many difficulties I surveyed my whole school by asking two questions, “Does the overall happiness in a school matter?,” and “Does CMS consider the happiness of our school one of their priorities?” The answers to these questions were astounding. 100% of students and teachers surveyed said that the happiness of a school matters, yet only 3 out of every 10 students and teachers surveyed said that central considers happiness as one of their priorities. Despite what everyone generally thought, when you break it down my school was not a happy place. I then presented that information to teachers and students, and they were just as astounded as I was. The happiness of my school matters, yet the administrators didn’t seem to care. I found that happiness in a school and overall is sort of an illusion. You hear about students and people being stressed and unhappy, but no one really believes that it can happen to them, in their school, or in their home. I woke up the eyes of my school, and showed them that happiness is not a joke. I ended up getting a 96% on my essay, a successful action plan, and a 97% on my presentation. However the grades weren’t the best part. The best part was knowing that there are people like Allison working to make our world a happier place, and that those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by others doing it. The teacher never apologized, but you could see in his eyes that he was wrong. I wish all the best for the people at PursuitOfHappiness.org, and pledge to never stop caring about happiness, because in the end, happiness is all we need.
See essay here: http://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/happiness-romano-orlando-student/