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February 16, 2017

Director, writer, actor, producer, and former college athlete Otis Winston visited Wellington to discuss empathy and civility with middle school students. Winston ran track and played basketball at The Ohio State University and has appeared in feature films “Independence Day Resurgence,” “Best Man Holiday,” and “The Great and Powerful Oz.” Recounting his own life experience facing challenges and overcoming obstacles, Winston encouraged students to “be the change you want to see.” He shared a short film he had made called “Split Decision” about the dangers of stereotypes and the importance of never judging people on their appearance. Afterward, students were able to engage in a Q&A with the filmmaker about his motivation behind re-creating the true story of two strangers of seemingly dissimilar worlds finding a way to connect through the noise of blind hatred and fear.

Winston recalled the moment in his own life when he stopped looking at color and focused on character. He encouraged students to do the same and also told them, “Never allow anyone to tell you what you cannot do in life.”

Middle School Speaker Otis Winston

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