Joetta and students

Joetta Clark Diggs stands with students from Intermediate South following her Oct. 22 keynote presentation at the school. Photo courtesy of Riki Stone.

Brings Message of Purpose, Perseverance

Intermediate South welcomed four-time U.S. Olympian Joetta Clark Diggs for two keynote presentations Oct. 22 and 23.

The speaking engagements were made possible thanks to Intermediate South's Whole School, Whole Child, Whole Community (WSCC) health-based grant, an initiative from the New Jersey Department of Health funded locally by EmPoWER Somerset

Clark Diggs is a New Jersey native and former track and field star who competed in the 800 meter event during the 1988, 1992, 1996, and 2000 Olympics. She is currently a motivational speaker and entrepreneur, and she brought her positive message to Intermediate South students.

On Tuesday, after being introduced by Principal Paul Gluck-- who thanked EmPoWER Somerset and school counselor and WSCC program lead Betty Velez-Gimbel-- Clark Diggs took the floor to speak about purpose, the power of listening, teamwork, preparedness, and more.

She challenged students to find their purpose in life, and urged them to live by the "gotta do it" motto. She also spoke about acceptance, kindness, work ethic, and open mindedness.

"Your mind is like a parachute," said Clark Diggs. "It only works when it's open."

Clark Diggs' message was inspirational and aligned with the social-emotional health being promoted by the WSCC program and throughout the district.

When speaking about regrets in life, Clark Diggs said she had none, because mistakes are learning experiences, and challenges provide opportunities for growth.

"People ask me, 'What would you tell your younger self?'" she mused. "I would say, 'It's gonna be OK.'"

Students had the opportunity to answer questions throughout and, when they did, they received a stress ball. The only stipulation? They had to catch it. (All did!) Students were also able to ask questions at the conclusion of the presentation, and pose for pictures with the retired athlete.

The Tuesday presentation included eighth-grade students and some seventh-grade classes, and Wednesday's keynote welcomed sixth and seventh graders. High school students from the TRSTV studio were on hand to record the event, and Tuesday's presentation will be posted to the studio's website as well as on this page when it becomes available.