Time is really moving this year. As we head into our second Early Release Day on Friday, our second three day weekend, and our second No Homework Night, we use these markers to send the message that the days are cruising along this year at Westlake High School. Our first quarter actually ends next week. That is correct; our first grading quarter ends next Friday on the 14th. The ending of a grading quarter can always get a little exciting as it marks time in our minds and finalizes grades on a report card. So, if we compare our school year to a marathon, we have already run close to 6.5 miles or a little over a 10K. After being in classrooms over the last week, I would say we have hit a nice solid stride.
One of the nicest things of working at a secondary campus is the energy that one can draw on from watching our students. The youthful exuberance that our kids can display daily is contagious. One of our events that capture this energy is our college fair. Optimism, excitement, confidence and wide eyes make this day one of our finest mornings. There is a buzz that makes our college fair the model for so many other campuses. And like so many things at WHS, it is our kids, parent volunteers, and staff that make this day so unique. If you have not inquired about this event with your junior or senior, it might be worth asking about as a way to start a conversation about the future.
As part of the Challenge Success program, a small group traveled to Palo Alto last weekend. We had a group of teachers, students, parents, and staff attend the fall conference. As the year progresses, you will receive information from our group as we look at our school culture and how to make this experience the best for our students and staff. One of the thoughts I was exposed to in a break out session was the notion that kids cannot learn how to deal with unhappiness that we all experience without going through unhappy times. This thought was brought back into my mind on Tuesday afternoon...
“I understand a little adversity is good, like you’ve always said, but this may be too much.”
I had the opportunity to be interviewed by a former football player I coached named Matt Nader on Tuesday afternoon. Matt currently works for St. Jude Medical as a territory rep manager. Matt sells cardiac devices including pacemakers and defibrillators. Matt is also in surgeries as part of his daily job description. Matt was interviewing me for a project as part of his MBA program at the University of Texas. I was honored Matt chose me to be interviewed along with the CEO of St. Jude and Governor Greg Abbott as leaders in the community.
“Thanks for pushing me through the good times and the hard times or I never would have made it through the event and the days after.”
Matt collapsed and died on the field at an A & M Consolidated football game in the fall of 2006. Matt was a team captain, a University of Texas football signee, and a tremendous young man. Matt, through the help of his parents, other doctors, and through the Eanes Athletic Dept. AED was brought back to life in a few minutes after his collapse. Matt would be advised a few days later to never play football or any contact sports again due to a cardiac condition. As Matt’s coach for 4 years, you are looked to as someone who has answers to some of the hardest questions during a time like this. I had no pearls of wisdom for Matt, but I did have time to give to him as he worked through this life changing event. Through the support of his parents, sister, extended family, friends, and the WHS community, Matt became an impassioned spokesperson for the use AEDs on all school campuses. Matt spoke to schools and School Boards in Texas and throughout the United States, and as a result, all Texas schools by law must have an AED on campus. While this is an extreme example of taking on some unhappiness, I hope it reminds us that we can all go through difficult times and our kids may benefit from going through the unhappy times with appropriate supports including parents, teachers and friends.
Have a wonderful three day weekend! It’s always a great day to be a Chaparral!
Steve Ramsey: WHS Principal Blog
Principal's Weekly Reflections