Your Life Speaks

Manhattan Rotary, Interact Club bring top-ranked speaker to Manhattan High

Meredith Comas, Print Editor-in-Chief

Clamor crashed through Manhattan High’s North Gym doors, hitting the wooden floors and tired bleachers with a wave of teenage morning-apathy and chatter. 

The noise settled under the direction of teachers and administrators wrangling in the assembly with the occasional “please sit with your advisories,” mindlessly making their way through the racket.

The bleachers groaned as students crowded in, shuffling through the blue, plastic rows to find their seats. 

In the corner of the far side of the gym, Nathon Harmon stood listening to the recurring beat-pattern of rap music from his phone — preparation before he does what he’s been invited to do in over 500 schools: speak.

On Aug. 28, Harmon, the number one ranked school speaker nationwide for the past three years, entered the halls of Manhattan High to give his “Your Life Speaks” talk, a presentation aimed at addressing the issues modern teenagers face — such as drugs and depression — through his own life-story.

“[In] bullying speeches, you usually hear an old person standing in front of the crowd, but [Harmon] spoke the language that younger kids speak and he knew how to interact with them in a way that older people can’t quite understand,” Elanor Bryant, junior, said. 

According to Bryant,  the president of MHS’ new Interact Club — a subgroup of the service organization, Rotary, for MHS students — Harmon’s appearance at Manhattan High was a joint effort between Interact and the Manhattan Rotary community, as he was initially invited to speak to the group as part of their peace project. 

Whenever he talked about valuing people, I really hope that stood out to people in terms of our club,” Bryant said. “We are a community service club so valuing people is one of our highest tiers.”

Students who attended the speech were met with a constantly moving, rapid-fire timeline of events packed into a 30-minute session with Harmon, in which he advocated for transparency of emotions and making active decisions to better yourself through valuing other people, candidly and openly using his own life as an example. 

“A lot of kids don’t have an outlet so [Harmon] was helpful because I don’t like talking about my feelings but I related and I could tell everyone else did too,” Krystal Kilner, senior, said.

According to Harmon’s Instagram, he is already in talks of bringing his program back to USD 383 next year and has his sights set on Kansas State University in the future.