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Guest speaker delivers powerful message, “You Matter”

April 5, 2016

One moment can really change your life forever, but you have the power to decide whether it will be for good or bad.

On Thursday, March 31, Monticello High School students listened to guest speaker Bobby Petrocelli explain how, in just a matter of seconds, the high school guidance counselor and coach went from a life filled with hope to despair.

In 1984, a drunk driver plowed his truck through the bedroom wall of Bobby’s bedroom, killing his wife and leaving him physically and emotionally broken. What came next, however, was a story of inspiration and hope for Monticello students and staff.

During the assembly, he described his slow and difficult climb back to happiness. His initial shock and disbelief after the accident soon turned to agony. He had been helpless and unable to protect his wife. Anger toward the driver and the situation drove him deep into depression.

His turning point was when his students came to him to remind him how important he was. They changed his focus and helped him recognize his true family and friends. Bobby ultimately met a woman who he married and they have two sons.

These experiences gave him insight into how others struggle in life and became the foundation of his message.

Following the accident, he wrestled with his personal pain, trying to understand the why behind what had happened. He eventually came to the conclusion that people who have been hurt, too often, make poor decisions to mask that hurt. Those poor decisions reinforce the internal message that, “I don’t matter.” Without a sense of self-worth, people continue to make poor and dangerous decisions—like that drunk driver who ignored the risks of drunk driving and killed Bobby’s wife.

“You are the most amazing people on earth,” he said. “When I am in the presence of students, I am in the presence of royalty.”

He explained that bad things happen in life; sometimes because a person makes mistakes and other times, things just happen. Those bad things leave an open wound that needs to heal. Untreated, that wound continues to eat away at a person’s self-worth and may lead to drugs, alcohol, bullying and other destructive behaviors.

“What happens to you doesn’t have to define you,” Bobby said. “You can’t control other people. What you do in your future is up to you.”

What happens in 10 seconds can change your life for good or bad, he said. People have to choose to move forward and heal. Otherwise, they become lost in a repeating pattern of shame, poor choices and more shame.

He said we need to rely on our internal GPS. When we are going in the wrong direction, it tells us to recalculate.

Bobby’s background as a coach and mentor and expertise with youth has made him one of the top communicators in his field, explained Innovation Instigator and Supervisor of Special Programs Dana Taylor.

“Our students entered the auditorium for what they thought would be an average school assembly,” she said. “However, this particular assembly had all the students on the edge of their seats.

Bobby’s passionate message that we matter and we have the power to make choices and heal old wounds resonated with the entire crowd, from students to teachers. Afterward, students lined up to thank him and grab a quick photo. Others quietly commented that his presentation was one of the most powerful they had ever heard.

Following his presentations, Bobby spent the remainder of the day in the high school’s cafeteria to meet with students and answer their questions. Many students left with signed copies of Bobby’s book, You Matter, It Doesn't: Leaving your "It" Behind.

For more information about Bobby Petrocelli, visit