Mitch Reed and Cardboard Confessionals Celebrated for Excellent Acts

Celebrating Acts of Excellence, One Act at a Time

The Acts of Excellence program connects us with individuals and organizations who are building a culture of excellence in South Dakota, one act at a time.

Please join us and area inductees to celebrate this Act of Excellence on Wednesday, April 3, 2019, from 4:00 to 5:30 pm at the Isaac Lincoln Gallery on the Northern State University campus in Aberdeen, South Dakota. See all of the event details here.

Cardboard Confessionals’’ Student Project Becomes Popular Book

cardboard confessionals smallA school sociology project asking students six basic questions about themselves led to a popular first book and a second career as a motivational speaker for Florence Superintendent Mitch Reed. The project began when Reed, teaching at Waverly South Shore at the time and pondering how to get to know his students better, invited them to answer six questions and place their answers in a cardboard box.

The box gave students anonymity as they considered such questions as “What is one thing you want to do before you die’’ and “What do you think about when you are alone.’’ A news story in the Aberdeen American News quoted Reed as saying it was often as if a weight had been lifted from a student’s shoulders when they placed their answers in the box. During the process, the Cardboard Confessionals website says, students “found an astonishing substance in their peers: breathtaking resilience in the face of adversity, admirable perseverance regarding their ambitions and, at times, heartbreaking apprehension for the future.’’

One student went so far as to hand a note directly to Reed. The note indicated the student had considered suicide, and help was provided. Reed turned the experiences in the school setting into the book “Cardboard Confessionals,’’ which was released early in 2018. Of the experience, Reed says, “I knew we had something special. The way students responded to the project showed me that there are many students out there with much to share. I was surprised by the rapid growth. I have had the opportunity to speak to 47 different groups in the last 16 months, and it has been an absolute blast. I am more surprised with how it has grown to different groups. I have spoken to the National Guard, nurses, many agricultural groups, church groups and Boys and Girls Club.’’

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