A Silence Breaker Lends Her Voice to Middleton High School


Photo courtesy of Ellie Taylor

As the bell rang for class, the PAC began slowly filling until nearly every seat in the entire auditorium was occupied. Here, nearly 900 Middleton High School students, teachers, and administrators sat to watch TIME’s 2017 Person of the Year: a Silence Breaker.

In only 35 minutes, Amanda Schmitt, a 2005 MHS graduate, captured everyone’s attention and encouraged everyone present to reevaluate the way they view sexual assault and harassment.

Schmitt spoke of change and how standing up for what is right can be unstoppably powerful. Sharing her story not only gave her a voice, but it gave other victims of sexual harassment a platform to speak on.

When asked why she decided to do the presentation at MHS, the Middleton native responded: “What I just said in the auditorium is a message that I would have liked to have heard when I was a teenager.”

Her presentation began by showing this video:

In the video, and in the December 18, 2017, issue of TIME, a lobbyist by the name of Adam Iwu was also featured. As Iwu shared her story, she explained that if all the women being harassed would stand up, they would finally be believed because “We can’t all be sluts.” Iwu stressed the importance of breaking ‘whisper networks’ and how by standing up together we are creating a stronger message.

As Schmitt’s presentation continued, the auditorium was silent. The students were engaged with Schmitt in a way that went beyond her celebrity. Schmitt spoke to our time, our generation, and taught us that we could not submit to sexual harassers. Sexual harassers are people in positions of power; they can be our friends or our colleagues. No matter their position, however, sexual harassers cannot continue on their path unobstructed. Those affected by sexual harassment need to reclaim the power and their narratives.

In a private interview with The Cardinal Chronicle staff members, Nadia Langley and Hanna Noughani, Schmitt shared what she hoped the students at MHS would take away from her presentation: “People just need to keep talking.”

While Amanda Schmitt educated everyone present on what sexual assault and harassment look like, she impressed upon her audience the idea that no matter who you are, you must “Never underestimate the power of your voice.”