The Student News Site of Summit High School

The Summit Pinnacle

The Student News Site of Summit High School

The Summit Pinnacle

The Student News Site of Summit High School

The Summit Pinnacle

Bend’s Living, Breathing Books

A diverse cast of speakers give Summit students a glance into their lives.

Summit welcomed 14 speakers from the Bend community, including three Summit staff members, into its library on Oct. 18 to share their unique stories and experiences with students. The event, a spin-off of the Human Library movement started in Copenhagen, Denmark, occurred for the first time in 2018, and again in 2020. This year, librarian Eila Overcash was happy to revive the Living Library after a pandemic-induced hiatus.

“Not just Summit high school kids, but teenagers in general, tend to have little blinders on and think they’re each the center of the universe,” Overcash said. “By having contact and hearing the stories of people who are different from us, it creates empathy and compassion, and that helps to minimize hate and misunderstanding.”

Nancy Stevens, a local paralympic athlete and member of the Central Oregon Disability Support Network, gave three presentations at the event. In her first session, titled “Jump Start Your Heart: CPR for Your Dreams,” Stevens encouraged audience members to follow their dreams and strive to reach their goals in the face of adversity. In her remaining two sessions, Stevens hosted a panel of community members with disabilities to promote disability awareness.

Stevens thinks she would have benefited from attending an event like the Living Library when she was in high school, and was glad to see so many of Summit’s students broadening their perspectives and learning something new.

“If we understand each other, and understand what makes us different, we can more readily reach out and not be afraid of each other,” Stevens explained.

In the end, both Overcash and Stevens were thrilled with the student turnout. Senior Ewan Mortensen attended sessions hosted by Stevens and James Bridges and found their respective stories about excelling in sports with a disability and overcoming homelessness to be inspirational. Bridges, who became unhoused in his 50s, now volunteers at the same homeless shelter that he once lived in and shared his lessons about perseverance and growth at the Living Library.

“I think it’s valuable for everyone to hear different stories about people with different experiences than themselves,” Mortensen noted.

Campbell Thomas, a Summit sophomore, was also satisfied with her experience. Thomas emphasized the importance of exposing young people to those with varying backgrounds, especially at a place like Summit that has so little diversity.

“I learned quite a bit,” said Thomas, who attended sessions ranging in topic from the music industry to racial and sexuality-based discrimination. Thomas felt that she gained the most knowledge from the presentation hosted by TJ Evans, a trans man who transitioned later in life and spoke to students about the long and confusing journey of self-discovery.

Overcash plans on hosting another Living Library in Feb. 2025 with a new cast of incredible and unique speakers, and urges all students to attend. Thomas will be there, and hopes that as many of her classmates as possible will take advantage of this opportunity to expand their world views and become more empathetic and accepting people.

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Lauren Shein
Lauren Shein, Staff Writer

Lauren Shein has been an avid reader and writer since 2nd grade, and is excited to dive into journalism this year with the Summit Pinnacle! At school, this sophomore staff writer can be found checking out too many books from the library, solving math problems, and running laps around the Summit track. On the weekends, Lauren enjoys exploring Bend’s local hiking trails with family, juggling an assortment of half-finished art projects, and petting as many dogs as possible.

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