By Connor Beach
For the third year in a row Teen Nick star and pop artist Meredith O’Connor visited Walt Whitman High School to speak to sixth graders from Silas Wood in the South Huntington School District.
O’Connor, of Cold Spring Harbor, said the mission of her songs, including her first hit “Celebrity” that went viral in 2013, is to bring recognition to the issue of school bullying.
“When I was bullied I felt like it was something to be ashamed of, like I did something to deserve it,” she said.
O’Connor said her life took a 360 when she was signed at 16, and she went from being bullied to being recognized on the street. Her newfound fame presented O’Connor with a public platform to help victims of bullying.
“I thought that if there were millions of people watching, maybe this could help someone,” O’Connor said. “I went from not even telling my mom about being bullied to telling the world, and that was so scary.”
Now, as a 21-year-old star, O’Connor said she hopes to be the kind of role model for students that she felt she needed as a kid.
Through a connection between her manager and the South Huntington School District’s special project director Lee Nober, O’Connor was presented with the opportunity to give back to kids in the Huntington community. She had the chance to speak with students again this year because the singer is home for a holiday break in the pre-production of a movie based on her life.
“Speaking at schools is my favorite part of my job because at the schools we can really have a heart to heart,” O’Connor said.
She also praised the efforts of Silas Woods’ principle Steve Toto and the other leaders of the South Huntington School District.
“When I went on my world tour I spoke at a lot of schools, and I’ve seen a lot of administrators, but these people really do care. They get that no kid should have to feel the way I did,” O’Connor said.
The pop star told the students she met on at Walt Whitman High School last Thursday to remember that they are not alone and that it’s always possible to get help.
She said, “If you are lucky enough to be different, don’t ever change.”