Q&A with Dean of Students Alex Keith
Q: What is the Fully Alive program and what does it truly mean to you?
A: At Miege, we don’t just care solely about the academics or even the spiritual aspects. We know that the social and emotional lives of the students are a big part of the community, so we aim to provide opportunities to teach and provide social and emotional well being while students are here.
Q: Why is Suicide Prevention stressed so heavily at Miege?
A: It’s because of the growing trend of these things happening throughout our nation. We saw what goes on beyond the walls of Bishop Miege, and we want our students to be best equipped to deal with these kinds of situations.
Q: As an administrator, how can you personally reach out to help those who may be struggling with suicidal thoughts?
A: I think the best thing is to have a mindset that every single person has a story. Whether they are in my office for attendance reasons or discipline reason, there is a story behind each and every person, so trying to take time and understand is important. And it’s not just the negative things, I have a giant stack of positive referrals here every day and I challenge all the teachers here to write as many positive referrals as they do detentions this year, and I think that’s important.
Q: What can students do to reach out and help those who may be struggling with suicidal thoughts?
A: Be aware. Have friends, keep friends, make new ones. That is such an important part here. I think the best thing you can do as a student is just to realize that everyone is going through a battle that you know nothing about. Whether they present like it or not, every student has things that they struggle with in their lives, and just being understanding of that is important. I think another really easy concrete step is to take the initiative of talking to somebody in your faith family. I think it’s easy for people to gravitate towards certain people, but I think being somebody who can take the first step and start a conversation with somebody who might be on the outskirts is really an easy example of heroism. It might not just change their day but maybe their entire life and their perspective on school.
Q: How does the implementation of this program personally impact you?
A: This is a labor of love for me, meaning every second that I spend working on Fully Alive is important to me because I see what is going on in our world, I see all the negative trends going on and I want to be a school that is different from the rest of the schools in the country. I want to be a school that notices the reality of our situation, takes active steps towards changing it, and there’s an old adage “Hurt people hurt people” and if we can kind of deal with people who are hurting, we might be able to prevent bullying from happening, prevent bad choices from happening.
Q: How does the Fully Alive program reflect the spirit of Miege?
A: The spirit of Miege is something that has been around long before me, long before Fully Alive, and I think that this just brings words and attention to something that has long been happening here more behind the scenes. I think that our counselors, administration and teachers all work tirelessly to make sure our students are growing to come into an environment in which they are loved and can be the best versions of themselves.
Q: What can we do as a community to build on the Fully Alive sentiment?
A: I think the big thing is to buy in. There might be things that speak directly to you. People might have had instances of bullying in the past, and they can understand why we do this. I think that we are trying to reach everybody here. I think Fully Alive has a part for each and every person, and even if you think these things don’t apply to your right now, who’s to say that things might change in the future and you may need some of this knowledge and some of this resilience training to battle through life’s biggest tests.