Rawl Shares Positivity With MH

Surrounded by a sea of blue shirts and inspiring, thankful messages that seemed to fill every inch of the school, Paige Rawl was welcomed with open arms and excitement by Morris Hills. Paige, who was 15 years old when she reached the lowest point in her life, fortunately survived her darkest moments. The now 21 year old stepped foot in Morris Hills on October 1st to share her story of how she survived. She also elaborated on her memoir, Positive, Morris Hills Regional District’s summer read.The Morris Hills community extended their hospitality beyond the school’s walls; during breaks and lunches students flooded social media with posts and “selfies” with the visiting author, thanking Paige for her impact and visit. In the two assemblies she held, Paige gave a brief informative lesson about HIV/AIDS, informing the students of many misinterpretations of her disease, then went on to talk about bullying and how she overcame this obstacle in her life. Rawl also opened the floor to questions from eager students, answering questions that ranged from wonders about her future plans to prom proposals.

After the assemblies, Paige toured the school and had lunch with students and faculty members. Concerning her writing process, Rawl stated, “Definitely, the hardest part for me was once it was completely finished; I had to sit through and read the entire thing from front to cover for editing. There were a few different times when I had to stop because it was really hard. It was like reliving it over again.” She also mentioned how she wouldn’t have been able to even face this difficult situation without the help of her friends along the way. “I don’t know, honestly, where I would be without Camp Kindle because [my friends] have become a backbone through everything.”

The students and faculty noted a difference between Paige and past authors. Morris Hills English teacher, Mr. Diaz, commented “She was very forthcoming. She has been the closest to the students’ age which made the connection stronger.” Senior Gerson Cifuentes also enjoyed the assembly, commenting, “This assembly was very inspiring; it was interesting to meet the person behind the story.”

In addition to Rawls’s visit, the Municipal Alliance sponsored the 5K Color Run on September 27th with the slogan “Paint the World Positive,” which raised over $1,000 for Camp Kindle. This pointed the community towards one common goal while painting the town with countless amounts of color;  the streets of Wharton were covered by the end of the run. ”It was a wonderful event and a great fundraiser for a good cause; it was a lot of fun to run with my friends.” said Morris Hills senior Jason Schweizer, who volunteered at the 5K.

Paige has traveled nationwide working with schools, churches and organizations to educate people on her case of bullying and her disease. She was featured in the documentary film “It’s Not Over” with two other HIV positive people and has been in many magazines and newspapers from Seventeen Magazine to USA Today. “I have decided this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I get joy and this is something I’m really passionate about,” Paige stated when she was asked about her future. Paige Rawl has inspired a wave of positivity that will hopefully extend beyond Morris Hills.