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Bobby Petrocelli shares the importance and impact of decision making to freshman class

Motivational speaker, author, educator and coach, Bobby Petrocelli, emphasized the importance and impact of decision-making to the freshman class at Washingtonville High School on Wednesday, September 21. His presentation is part of the freshman seminar program.

“Freshman seminars are put in place to help with the transition from middle school to high school,” said Brian Connolly, principal of Washingtonville High School. “We want to not just focus on academics but also the social and emotional learning as well.”

Freshman seminars will take place every other month throughout the school year. 

Petrocelli began the presentation sharing his personal story. When he was only 24 years old, his wife of just over two years was killed. 

“My life was changed in one moment,” said Petrocelli. “It was changed in 10 seconds or less.” 

While he and his wife were sleeping a drunk driver drove over 70 mph through their bedroom wall, severely injuring Petrocelli and killing his wife Ava. Ava was stuck under the truck and suffocated in the bed sheets, while Petrocelli was thrown onto the hood of the truck and suffered a broken arm, burns all over his body, and a hole in the side of his cheek.

Petrocelli stressed the phrase: “I matter. You matter. We matter.” He had students repeat it over and over throughout the presentation. Everyone’s biggest fear is the fear of being rejected; the fear of not being enough; the fear of not being loved; and the fear that you do not matter.

“A drunk driver is not the reason Ava is dead,” said Petrocelli. “It had a part in it, but it is not why she is dead. Why was he drunk in the first place? Why was he abusing alcohol? He was trying to anesthetize the pain of his brokenness that told him he did not matter.”

Petrocelli went on to explain that every decision comes from the idea that we all want to matter and feel loved. 

“I’ve been sharing this story for the last 30 years to let everyone know how much they matter,” said Petrocelli. “That you matter.” 

Petrocelli was an educator and football coach at Sante Fe High School in Texas when his wife passed away. The 1,200 students attended the funeral along with the teachers and staff. 

“I am alive today because those 1,200 students told me I mattered and they were not going to let me give up.”

Petrocelli discussed that we need to go after the root of our problems, not just the negative actions that come from them. Too many people do not get the help they need because they are too embarrassed or do not think they need it. Oftentimes, people hang out with bad influences, and get dragged down bad paths, just so they can feel like they matter and fit in. He encouraged the freshman to really understand the impacts of their decisions and how surrounding yourself with the right people can make all the difference. 

“Real friends push you to be the best you can be to fulfill your destiny,” said Petrocelli. “You will never do anything great or bone headed by yourself.” 

Petrocelli has been sharing his story to the freshman class at Washingtonville High School for almost 20 years. 

Bobby Petrocelli talks to freshman class at Washingtonville High School.