Education


Over the last two weeks, two fine local high schools, Skyline and Olympus, have been in a friendly competition to see who can raise the most money for the Souper Bowl of Caring, a charitable organization that works with our local food bank to get food to needy students in local school districts. These two high schools have been rivals for over 50 years, a rivalry that both my husband and I were part of, being alumni of these schools. Skyline and Olympus have participated in this fundraising rivalry for the past three years. Though both schools have a percentage of students who receive free and reduced lunch, each dollar raisedand can of food collected through this fundraiser goes to feed students throughout the district, not at just at these two schools. A friendly competition can work magic.

Souper Bowl of Caring is a nationwide event. Every state participates. Utah has placed second for most money raised, after Texas. In 2016, Utah raised $883,000, with half of that being raised by SHS and OHS’s district. For the last three years, Skyline has won their friendly competition with Olympus, with both schools raising a substantial amount for their district’s fellow students. In 2015, both schools combined collected just over $10,000 and about 9,000 cans of food. In 2016, these fine student bodies again answered the call with similarly amazing results.

This year, Skyline and Olympus have out-shined everyone. Not only have they raised money for hungry friends, they have shown what good sportsmanship, friendly rivalry, and a truly charitable attitude really look like. This year when the call came, Skyline raised $40,800, setting a new record for most money raised by a Utah school, and collected 6,571 cans of food. One school, just over 1,400 students. Winners and totals were announced during halftime at the Skyline-Olympus football game this weekend, and you can imagine the cheers that camefrom the packed stands on both sides. True to their good nature, the Skyline student body officers who accepted the win gave credit to their worthy rivals, noting that Olympus, with just over 1,500 students, raised $25,138 which more than doubled the amount of money raised by both SHS and OHS combined in 2015. Both schools beat the old state record of $25,000.

What do these amazing students get for their efforts? What motivates them to dig up their change and raid their pantries to help others? Serving is in their nature, and they have fun with it. Students had incentives like duct taping a willing teacher to the wall at lunch, watching their SBO’s get their legs waxed, or getting 10-15 extra minutes of lunch. Other motivators include having an obnoxious song play over the loud speakers in between classes and at lunch until the daily goal is met. (“The Song that Never Ends” needed to end.) They do not serve for recognition; that’s just a bonus.

There are moments that make you proud of the teenagers in your life. This is one of those moments.

Thank you, Skyline and Olympus students for your example and generosity. I already knew you were amazing, and this again proves it. You did not seek such recognition for serving, but you deserve this shout out. You have put us adults to shame in a good way. I have no doubt that when the call comes again to serve your fellow people, you will again accept it without hesitation, whether or not a record is set or a competition is at stake. You have inspired others with your selflessness and joy in service. You have also proven that the need to serve is often found among the friends, friendly rivals, and strangers within your own walls and boundaries. And you have proven, yet again, that teenagers are a force to be listened to and acknowledged. You continue to help me prove that teenagers are awesome.

Go Eagles and Go Titans!

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A teacher at school recently passed away from cancer. This particular teacher was the advisor for the Community of Caring group in which students plan and conduct various service projects throughout the year for members of the community.

Today, students at the school clad themselves in pink and the basketball team and pep band will have a “pink out” game to show their support for this teacher. As further proof that the students and administration at this school understand and care about their community, their marquee had a special message:

Sign for Ms Daily jan292016 small

Teenagers are awesome.

 

Three years ago, I taught a troop of ninth graders. This year, those ninth graders became seniors, and I was able to attend their graduation ceremonies. What a satisfying treat! And what great men and women those teenagers had turned into! I was thrilled—and sometimes pleasantly surprised—to hear each of their names called as they walked across the stage to receive their diplomas. They had made it! And I was proud of each of them.

I believe the theory that a teacher always remembers her first year of teaching. These new graduates were my first students, so it was only normal that I wanted to see how they turned out. But their class with me probably had more meaning for me than it did for them, and that, too, was normal. So it was really no surprise to me that I felt a happy disconnect from my now-graduating ninth graders as they moved on with their lives with little or no thought for me. I was thankful I had some influence in their lives, and I’m glad I did my best to make that influence count. I was happy to let them move on.

It’s true that, as teachers, we affect eternity and we should take that influence seriously. But, honestly, we usually don’t know exactly how or how much we have affected any of our students—or whether we have affected them at all—unless they say so. If that happens, it might not come until much later. It was over a decade before I actually thanked the specific teacher who influenced my career choice. And as you readers know, I work with people who sometimes reach middle-age before they realize or admit to anyone their former teachers’ life-changing influences. Watching my former ninth-graders graduate made me realize I may never know my influence on them. Many simply and successfully moved on each year without another thought for me—and that’s fine. I hope I was a good teacher; I hope I influenced each of them for the better and even offered inspiration. As our students move on, so do we.

In the end, it really is the student’s success; it is their work, ambition, and determination—together with supportive parents, teachers, and other positive influences—that give them the ability to walk across that graduation stage. What a privilege it was for me to be one teacher in my students’ lives, and what a big difference that short experience was to me.

Some teachers don’t attend their school’s yearly graduation, but they should. They help put our work in perspective and offer satisfying closure for us and our students, allowing us all to gladly and confidently move on to the new, exciting adventures life has to offer. On to the next adventure!

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