Volume 9

South Students Give Back at Huffman Elementary:

Thirty-two of our National Honor Society students volunteered at Huffman Elementary School’s Fall Carnival. Kelly Tirpak, PTA President at Huffman, wrote me an email to share her gratitude for our students’ efforts:

Many thanks to the students from South High School.  In my twelve years at Huffman, this is by far the best group of kids we have had. It makes me proud to be a part of the Huffman/Goldenview/South schools when I see great kids who are giving time to their community. I heard many parents discussing what great role models those high school students were for the younger students. (Excerpted from email, 10/27)

I’ll echo Kelly’s sentiments. It is fantastic to see students giving back and modeling positive behavior to their younger counterparts.  Also thanks to Regina Dietrich who works with our students in NHS.

South Raises Funds for Breast Cancer Treatment Support: 

The South student body raised $1466.00 for breast cancer treatment in just one minute of donations during fourth hour last week, the largest sum raised in any high school in the district.  An additional $552.00 was raised from NHS’s bake sale at conferences. Collectively, a $9700 check was donated at the Spike-Out Volleyball game on Tuesday 10/29 to help fight breast cancer. Thanks to our students, teachers and community for their generosity. 

Kindness Week 

November 12th through 15th will be Kindness Week at South, which will focus on committing random acts of kindness. There will be a host of events that will focus on practicing kindness and generosity, one of which will be a canned food drive competition between classes. 

As part of our focus on kindness, some of our students will also be explaining the science of kindness. In short, committing at least one random act of kindness per day can make us happier, healthier, less anxious, and is also likely to make our schools and workplaces the same.  Here’s a quick video that highlights the kinds of positive chain reactions kindness can cause. 

The findings outlined in the video above suggest that our school and community can expect to become a healthier, happier place so long as we continue to commit random acts of kindness each day.  

South High School is Named one of Newsweek’s top STEM Schools:

Each year Newsweek Magazine partners with STEM.org to name the top Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) schools across the United States. South is amongst the top schools this year. Official rankings will be released on November 8th on Newsweek.com in their double issue. 

Making the list is reflective of our teachers’ efforts and professionalism in C Hall as well as in the Science and Math departments, where students are encouraged to explore how math, science, engineering, technology, and art can be integrated and lead to the development of skills that are directly applicable beyond school walls.

South High School Students in Gifted Internships:

Three South High School students are currently completing a Gifted Mentorship through which they will gain on-site experience in their chosen field as well as being eligible to earn a half, graded elective credit for their semester of work. Juniors and Seniors should consider applying for Gifted Mentorship in the future in order to gain on-the-job experience in their chosen field. This semester’s interns are:

  •     Chloe Manderson: Graphic Design with Creative Space AK
  •     Kennedy Muller: Pediatric Pulmonology at Providence
  •     Clara Unger: Journalism at the ADN   

South Football Players Receive Accolades Beyond Just Winning:

In addition to winning the State Championship and receiving the GPA Award as a team, the following players earned individual honors. Additionally, the Anchorage Assembly members representing South Anchorage will acknowledge the team with a Resolution on November 19th.  Finally, several players earned State-level honors and Coach Dana Curtis was named Assistant Coach of the Year. Please see the following document for details. 

All Tournament Team:

  • Jackson Harmon, QB
  • Quincy Heartwell, WR
  • Jayden Hearwell, DB
  • Carter Weber-Thomas, RB
  • Jack Moore, DT
  • Nick Martin, T
  • Carson Jungwirth, LB

Player of the Game:

  • Jackson Harmon

Sportsmanship Awards:

  • Loke Iese, LB
  • Brenden Jagels, G

South Students Excel at ASAA All State Music

South High School had 32 students receive recognition at the ASAA All State Music event. Ten Band students and five alternates, seven Choir students, and 12 orchestra students received distinction.  South’s Orchestra students made up the largest contingent of winners from a single school in the state. Please see the Booster Club’s Newsletter for details. 

Thanks goes to Mr. Somaduroff, Mrs. Nelson and Mr. Bennett, as well as Mr. Levine for keeping our students sharp.  

Swimmers at Regions

Congratulations to our Girls Swim Team who took second in the region, and to our Boys Swim Team who won the GPA Award. Several of our girls will be moving onto the State competition this weekend, and with the Boys’ GPA award, South has now won three GPA Awards along with several Region and State Championships and Coach of the Year honors. Congratulations also goes to Summer Cheng who set a new school record in the 100 butterfly. 

Part II: Big Ideas & Their Application

What do heroes and mythology have to teach us about how to live with failure in modern times, and use it to become stronger and more successful?

The answer lies, in part, in the hero cycle and the innumerable stories that use the hero cycle as their framework. For a quick illustration of the hero cycle using Harry Potter, Frodo, and Katniss Everdeen, see the following Ted Ed Video. For more depth, consider Joseph Campbell’s book, Hero with a Thousand Faces

 Although the hero cycle is used in many myths that seem distant from our everyday lives, to some degree, we are all the main character or hero in our own stories, which makes the hero cycle much more relatable to our everyday struggles and triumphs. 

The simplest version of the hero cycle has three steps: departure, initiation, and return. 

In short, the hero faces a change that forces him out of his normal routine; he undergoes challenges and usually receives help from a wiser elder; he overcomes the challenges and finally returns a stronger, more insightful person. Here is a simple visual of the cycle based on Campbell’s work. 

Like the heroes of myth, we go through this three step cycle often. We may not think of ourselves in heroic terms, but we are frequently pushed out of our comfort zone, have to undergo challenges, overcome them, and we frequently return stronger. 

This process applies to learning, to trying something new, or just to navigating difficult situations. It also means that individuals who are willing to fail are not only more likely to make progress, but also to be admired.  The German poet Goethe remarked that, “We can always redeem the man who aspires and strives.” 

All heroes fail at some point in their journey and accept the help of others, which makes them human, and allows us to use them as an example of how to face our own failures and how to redeem ourselves after we’ve undergone a failure. 

Most of the ideas above are adapted from The Art and Adventure of Leadership, the last chapter of which is called Redeeming Failure, where the authors argue that any person dedicated to growth must be able to answer the following three questions, which serve as a guide to which challenges we should accept, and which ones should be avoided:

  1. In what circumstances can I afford to fail, and to what extent?
  2. In which circumstances should I proactively take risks and experiment?
  3. In which circumstances must I seek never to fail because the risk is too high?

(Bennis & Sample, p. 21)

Ultimately, progress requires some form of struggle, whether it is running a faster mile, getting a higher test score, or improving how we communicate with others. Keeping the three questions above in mind will hopefully help us all fail forward, and get stronger as a result.