Students and teachers give the 'I love you' sign

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Yvonne, Rich and Lisa arrive at Monroe High and begin preparations for the school's first Challenge Day. When the 64 participants walk into the gym, they immediately gravitate toward their usual cliques, sitting with people they are most comfortable with...but not for long.

"Challenge Day is a time for you to know all you've got to do is be you. Let go of any walls, any images, any masks," Yvonne tells the students. "Just be you and tell your truth...we're ready to get real."

The day begins with a variety of games that are designed to get students of different ethnicities and backgrounds to start interacting with each other. At first, some students are uneasy, but with time, the teens start opening up and eventually venture outside of their comfort zones.

Participants also learn a silent, yet powerful, way to support one another—the "I love you" symbol in sign language. "It means, 'I've got your back,'" Yvonne says.

"It's really amazing when you actually sit across from someone, and they're divulging something very deep and very personal and when they feel most alone ... you see that sign go up, especially from a bunch of different people who you didn't interact with the day before or the week before or ever," Lisa says. "It's a pretty amazing feeling."
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FROM: Oprah's High School Challenge
Published on November 09, 2006

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