Volume 8

*A Note on Structure: It is my intent to use the first part of each newsletter to recognize students’ achievements and to share news items and upcoming important dates. The second part will address big ideas and how they inform how we think about educating students both in the social-emotional and academic realms. Starting this week, I will attempt to make that distinction clear so recipients can focus on what they believe is most important. 

Part I: The News

We’re on a Roll South! 

    • The Boys Football Team won the State Championship on Friday at AFS with a 27-13 victory over their Southside rival Service, won the GPA Award, Jackson Harmon was named Player of the Game, and Coach Harmon was named co-head Coach of the year.
    • Our Gymnastics Team won Regions with a 10 point gap over their nearest competitor, earned the Sportsmanship Award, were 2nd place in the GPA competition, and the coaches were recognized as Coaches of the year.
    • Volleyball took a convincing win over the Dimond Lynx in three straight sets, and are headed to Regions seeded #1. 
    • The Wrestling Team went to Fairbanks, won the Battle of the Interior, and are unbeaten so far this season.

Cross Country traveled to one of the largest invitationals in California over the weekend, and continued their success. The Varsity girls finished 2nd overall, the JV girls finished 1st-4th place, and the boys made a strong showing at the meet.

In other news, the Swim/Dive Team is headed to the Region competition with 32 athletes, which will start at Bartlett on October 31st. Those students are listed in the linked bulletin. Our Choir students have also been strong competitors: Kaia Bailey and Corinne Johnson tied for first in Upper High School. Kate Springsteen was first in Lower High School. We also had students place in the top 5 for Sing for Scholarship and they will also be singing at the PAC.

In short, our students and their coaches have managed to prevail at the highest levels:

  • Cross Country Girls State Championship + GPA Award + Coach of the Year
  • Tennis co-State Championship + Coach of the Year
  • Flag Football State Championship + Coach of the Year
  • Football State Championship + GPA Award + co-Coach of the Year
  • Gymnastics Region Champions + Sportsmanship Award + Coaches of the Year

Win with Humility: While we have been winning a lot, it’s always important to stay humble and put success in a larger context. John Wooden expressed this notion clearly when he observed that, 

“Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there." 

Stay Aware in School Zones and Keep Pedestrians Safe:

The sun is now rising after 9 am, which means that almost all students are arriving at school in the dark. As a result, students are crossing darker lots and crosswalks each morning. It takes a heightened awareness on the part of both drivers and pedestrians to make sure all students arrive at school safely. Please continue to be careful when commuting no matter what form that takes. 

Advanced Placement Registration:

Please see the linked bulletin for details on registering for AP Tests. The process will start this Friday, November 1st in classes, and email communication to parents will follow. You can call 742-6270 if you have questions. 

Flu Shot Clinic:

Attendance is the most important predictor of academic success. As such, please consider allowing your student to get a flu shot on November 5th. More details about signed parent permission and hours are in the linked bulletin.

Part II: Ideas & Their Application

What can we learn from John F. Kennedy and Babe Ruth that applies to learning and facing adversity?

In short, that being able to pursue meaningful goals requires that we be willing to face hardship along with way, learn from it, and return to the pursuit of that goal with a clearer understanding of how to overcome the obstacles in our way. 

JFK illustrated this concept in his Moon Speech at Rice University on September 12, 1962 when he explained to his audience, 

  •  We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills. (Italics mine, https://go.nasa.gov/2WiIA4o)

In essence, having a meaningful goal, accepting hardship, and learning from it before moving forward helps define what is necessary to achieve great outcomes. Therefore, if we want our students to achieve at the highest levels, we have to accept they will face hardships, and provide them a way to work through them. 

This is where Babe Ruth’s approach to batting may help provide a metaphor for all of us to see the value in developing resilience and learning from mistakes rather than trying to eliminate the possibility of making mistakes altogether.

I’ll rely on Warren Bennis’s explanation in his book, The Art and Adventure of Leadership, to illustrate this point:

  • When Ruth said, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run,” he wasn’t wasn’t simply minimizing a loss. Rather, he was referring to the almost imperceptible adjustments that he would make after each strike, the tiny flashes of insight he would gain, and the confidence that the small and frequent failures would lead, over time, to ever greater mastery of his craft (117).

We will all face strikes in our pursuit of a goal, and we are all better off if we use those small failures to learn how to better approach the challenge the next time it arises. This applies to our jobs as well as it does to homework and difficult projects and tests. Our students have demonstrated the idea in the above quote throughout the fall--now it is a matter of making resilience and learning from mistakes part of our everyday behavior.  

I’ll close by offering a brief stanza from Robert Frost who distilled the idea above in more general terms:

He says the best way out is always through

And I agree to that, or in so far

As I can see no way out but through

--Robert Frost (lines 56-58 from A Servant to Servants)

Have a great week South!