Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Joy of Giving

Today at school we had a beautiful example of what it really means when we say there is joy in giving. Over the last few weeks, Mrs. Grothouse has led the charge like she does every year and ran our Toss a Toy program. Through various fund raising activities, Mrs G has motivated and inspired the staff and students here at Vantage to give to this wonderful cause. The very first fundraiser was the mani/pedi day we held at our school. Students can sign up to receive a manicure and/or a pedicure for a couple dollars and then they get out of a class for that day. This project raised $896.87 for purchasing toys. We also held a "change stall" day. This is where the students bring in any loose change they have and dump it on their teachers desk, causing the class to be "stalled" until all the change is counted. This project raised $1138.32 for purchasing toys. Each class also has a fund they can spend on various activities. They raise money throughout the year to have money in this fund. All the labs in total, donated $3166.82. Finally, the cosmetology program held a jeans day ($1. to wear jeans that day) and they sold hair extensions for $2 each. This project raised over $600.00. There was also a generous donation from a previous student that Mrs G had in class years ago. The grand total that our school raised was $6,632.67. Yesterday Mrs G and some of her "elves" went shopping to buy all the toys they could with that money. Well today, the stage in the commons area was filled to the brim with toys for the children in our area. What a beautiful site to see.

I would just like to say thank you to Mrs G for spearheading this program every year. However, she will be the first to tell you that this is not her or her class. This is the entire student body and staff here at Vantage. Every year they step up to the plate and hit a homerun. It always amazes her how generous and kind and caring the students are. Mrs G. was a little choked up as she spoke about the children that will receive these gifts. She stated that we will not see their faces when they get the gifts but all of us can know in our hearts that we made someones Christmas very special. And that is truly the joy of giving. Thank you all!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Fine Young Men

I am writing this blog today to let you know how proud I am of two young men who attend Vantage. Both of these fine young men have worked hard over the last year to earn the highest rank in the National Boy Scout organization, an Eagle Scout. I am talking about Alex Myers and Dylan Schimmoeller, both from Kalida High School and attending Vantage Career Center. Alex is in our Senior Auto Tech program and Dylan is in our Senior Carpentry program. According to the National Eagle Scout Association, only about 5% of all Boy Scouts earn the rank of Eagle Scout. To become an Eagle Scout, you must earn a total of at least 21 merit badges, including the following: First Aid, Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, Communication, Personal Fitness, Emergency Preparedness, Environmental Science, Personal Management, Swimming (Hiking or Cycling), Camping, Cooking and Family Life. They are also required to complete a service project.

Alex Meyers did his service project at the new Kalida park by the Pony League diamond. Alex built a batting cage that will be able to be used by all the youth in the area. Alex stated that he has about 500 hours into the project and had to raise between $6000 - $7000. Alex had a lot of the equipment donated and also had to send out letters and visit various businesses trying to raise the money. He mentioned to me that he received $1500 from the Cincinnati Reds organization. The entire idea for this project and all the planning was Alex's idea. I hope if you are in the area, you would stop by and see what a great job Alex did and all the hard work that was put into this awesome project. Congratulations Alex!

Dylan Schimmoeller also did his service project at the Kalida park. His project is a beautiful sitting area that is shaped like a gazebo but has four swinging benches surrounding the edges. Please look carefully at the picture as words cannot describe this beautiful project. Dylan has spent almost five months on the project and raised $10,000. Dylan also did this through sending letters to companies, donations and any other means he could to help pay for this. This sitting area also was Dylan's own idea and he planned the entire project. You can tell his work in the Carpentry lab really paid off when you see this project in person. Congratulations Dylan!

Like I said, I am so very proud of both of these fine young men. If you had a chance to speak with them on a regular basis like I do, you would see that these projects aren't surprising. These are two of the kindest, most polite and outstanding young men that you will ever meet. It is my pleasure that I have gotten to know them both over the last two years. I hope if you see them around the school, you will ask them about their projects and congratulate them on achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. Once again Alex and Dylan, congratulations on your new Eagle Scout ranking.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Help For The Holidays

This may seem like it is a little to soon to be writing about the holidays, but they really are just around the corner. I am hoping I can give you some information and some tips to help you through the holiday season and I hope that you would refer back to this post during the next six or seven weeks.

People often talk about the holiday blues or feeling depressed around the holiday season. There is a reason for this. Television, radio and advertisements try to make it feel like everyone is having a "hallmark" type of Thanksgiving or Christmas. If we aren't celebrating like they are on TV, then something must be wrong.  I don't know if you have noticed or not but the ABC Family channel is already running their 50 days of Christmas, or whatever they call it. I personally believe we rush into the holidays a little to early, but that is just my opinion. However, if you have been watching any of the movies on that channel, you will notice a certain theme. It seems like it is always snowing and people are taking sleigh rides through beautiful parks that are all lit up with Christmas lights. The Christmas music is playing, bells are ringing, and in the end everyone is gathered around the decorated table eating a feast made for kings. The movie usually ends with everyone holding hands and going about town singing Christmas carols. The commercials that are on TV can be another problem. It looks like everyone is out shopping and having a great time. They want you to believe that if you don't spend money, you won't be happy. They create the image that you must have everything that is being sold otherwise you won't have a very merry Christmas.

The truth is, the above scenario very rarely ever happens anymore. I don't know about you, but I haven't taken a sleigh ride and sang Christmas carols in a long time. I also realize many of our students have never experienced a Thanksgiving or Christmas like the ones depicted in the movies. I also realize many of you are worrying about what you will have for Thanksgiving dinner or how you will eat over the Christmas season. I hope I can offer you some tips and resources that you can use or maybe a friend of yours could use.

1) Don't expect the holidays to be the same as when you were a little child. They NEVER are. You are not the same as you where when you were a child.

2) Focus on what you have, not what you don't. Ignore the commercials where the husband surprises his wife with a brand new luxury car or a diamond ring. This only leaves you wondering, "What about me?" Remind yourself that it's not the stuff that makes the holidays important.

3) The holidays bring back memories of loved ones, I understand that. Give yourself permission to grieve, and deal with the loss in your own way. If you want to cry, go ahead. If you want to remember your loved one in a special way, go ahead. Light a candle, put together a scrapbook, decorate the grave stone with flowers, or whatever else you find comforting.

I have a short list of places where you may be able to get help with your meals during the holidays, please feel free to use these resources, they are there for you.

           - Trinity Friends Church across from Vantage. Weekly hours are Tuesday from 10:00 am until 12:00 noon and Thursdays from 4:00 - 5:30 pm.

           - Van Wert County Dept. of Jobs and Family Services: 419-238-5430. They can help with a short term family financial need of up to $1000.00

           - Salvation Army: 419-238-9100. They will be able to help or lead you to assistance.

           - Van Wert Ohio Community Action Commission: A regional non-profit that partners with local agencies like the United Way and local churches. Click here for their website.

           - Delphos Interfaith Thrift Store: Not for profit combination thrift store, food pantry and financial assistance entity. 419-692-2942

           - West Ohio Food Bank: A great resource. They work with churches all over Allen, Mercer, Paulding, Putnam and Van Wert counties. They will help. 419-222-7946. Click here for the list of Paulding county agencies, but you can also find all agencies for each county on this page.

Finally, remember you can call 2-1-1 anytime for assistance,

And as always, please stop by and talk if you are having problems this holiday season. If you need food, clothing or just want to talk about some struggles you are having, my door is open for you. Thanks and I hope you relax and enjoy this holiday season.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Actors Among Us

I know I have been at Vantage for quite awhile now and I can honestly say that I don't ever remember having actors among our students (I could be mistaken, so I apologize beforehand). However, this year is a little different. Just the other day I was told that Jeremiah Simerman (Senior Construction Equipment Technology program) was in a movie that is out on DVD and available through Amazon. I quickly went to Amazon and searched for "Two Steps From Hope" and sure enough there was the cover of the DVD and Jeremiah was on the cover. The trailer was available to watch, so I thought I would see how good of an actor he was. I was instantly intrigued. From what I saw, he looked very good and the movie looked very professional. I knew I would have to watch it over the weekend. I am very glad that I did. The movie is a Christian movie and it was written and produced by junior and senior high school students. The acting was very good and the quality of the film is outstanding. This is a great movie to get the family together and watch, however, I will warn you that you may shed a tear or two. The movie is about when tragedy strikes, a teen struggles to keep her once perfect family from falling apart. I believe the entire movie was filmed in Indiana. In speaking with Jeremiah, he told me that it took over two years to produce and film. I think it's pretty cool to be watching a movie and to know one of the actors. Congratulations Jeremiah on an excellent movie and I hope to see you in many more.

We also have Josh England (Senior - Auto Tech) who is currently in a play at the Van Wert Civic Theater. Opening night was last Friday and they will have two more performances coming up next Saturday, November 4th in the evening and then a Sunday matinee. I am hoping to make the matinee next weekend. I have seen Josh perform last year at the Van Wert Civic Theater and he was very good. This play is called "Sitting in a Tree" and from what I hear it is hilarious, however, I believe this one has a sad ending also. Josh, starring as Archie, has a major role in the play. When he showed me the script book last week I was blown away by how many lines he has to remember. I have no idea how Josh can perform in front of a live audience, but he does an excellent job when he is on stage. I believe we will see much more of Josh at the VWCT even after he graduates.

Congratulations to both Jeremiah and Josh. They are truly actors among us.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Need Help? Call 2-1-1

I know that if I asked almost any student "what does the 4-1-1 mean?", they would be able to answer by saying, "oh that is slang for information, like give me the 4-1-1 on what's going down next week". I also know that I could ask almost everyone "what number do I call in an emergency?" and they would answer 9-1-1. Well I have a new number for you that I also hope you remember. It is 2-1-1.

2-1-1- is a free, confidential and non-emergency number that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is a fantastic resource that was started in our area by the United Way. The idea behind the 2-1-1 is to get you connected and to help you get answers with many of the problems our students and adults in this area face. Whether you need to find after school care, counseling, help caring for an aging parent, putting food on the table or simply making ends meet. United Way's 2-1-1 provides confidential, easy-to-use and free access to the information you need. If you know me, you know that I have a folder of resources in my office. I try to keep them updated and organized, but that is not always easy to do. With this tool, you will have immediate access to my "folder" with all that information and so much more. Not only is the service free but it is CONFIDENTIAL. Please, if you need assistance with anything and you are afraid to ask, call 2-1-1. Just a few of the many things they can help you with are:

Basic Needs Assistance
Financial Assistance
Children and Elderly Services
Physical and Mental Healthcare
Volunteer Opportunities

As winter sets in, if you are in need of clothing, food or shelter, please call 2-1-1. If there is anyone you know who needs help during this cold weather, either call for them or tell them about 2-1-1. There is no way anyone should go hungry or without warm clothes. There are just to many agencies willing to help out in our area. They also can help you if you are looking to volunteer somewhere. This would be great for our Student Ambassadors, National Technical Honor Society or any student that is looking to help out in the community. Speaking of volunteering, I would hope all of you would volunteer to help somewhere or someone at one point in your life. There is no greater reward. This is all a part of making you the best person you can be, and you know that is what I want for you in life.

If I can quote author and teacher Ron Clark about being the best person you can be, he said "Throughout life, you are going to be lonely at times, you are going to have your heart broken on occasion, and you are going to feel as if something is missing from your life. No life is lived without some amount of pain and heartache. No matter how bad things get, however, make sure you are always developing into the kind of person you want to be, and the kind of person others will want to be around. It is important not to let external factors keep you from developing who you are and the person you are trying to become. Always make sure there are seven things in your life at all times: laughter, family, adventure, good food, challenge, change, and the quest for knowledge. With all of those things, you will grow, enjoy life, and become the type of person you can be proud of. You will also be in a better position to help others, give advice, and learn from your mistakes, because you will be a stronger, healthier, and happier person."  Take care and thanks for reading!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Now Is The Time

As we head into the final week of the quarter, I want to remind you that there is still time to work on those first quarter grades. I have been running some grade reports and there are students who need to work really hard this week so that they can raise their percentage in their classes. I know Mr. Knott sent out an email to all of you today referring exactly to that point. There is a big difference from failing the first quarter with a 15% or failing the first quarter with a 50%. Please see Mr. Knott's email for a complete explanation.

I just want all of you to realize that now is the time to start working hard on improving your grades and your overall standing here at Vantage.  It is easy to say "well what can be done in five days?" or you may feel that it is to late to improve your grade. As Mr. Knott states, "EVERY POINT MATTERS". Our final grades are determined by averaging the four nine week grades and the final exams (if the class offers the final exam). Quarter grades are 20% and the exams are 10% each. If there aren't final exams, then each quarter is worth 25%. So 15% vs 50% grade DOES MATTER. Please, this week if you are struggling, work with your instructors to make sure all your work is turned in. Ask for any opportunities where you can do extra credit. Finally, study for any remaining tests or quizzes that you may have this week.

It is not to late. Grab every point that you can. Next week will start a brand new quarter. Take advantage of a fresh start. Don't fall behind, and make sure you do your homework every day. One of the biggest problems I see with failing grades is missing assignments. Look, all of you chose Vantage because it was a fresh start and you wanted to learn a trade. Now is the time to take hold of that opportunity before it slips away. The vast majority of our students are taking advantage of being here. They are learning a trade, earning great grades and will be well prepared for the future. Don't be part of the very small minority who are falling behind. Tell yourself that you are no longer going to fall into that trap. I hope you read the earlier post about hanging around good company and good friends. Maybe that is something you need to look at. Everyone here at Vantage is here to help you and make sure you succeed. Now is the time to take advantage of that. Now is the time to improve yourself and your grades.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Unleash Your Story

This week in our Media center, Mrs Knodel is celebrating "Teen Read Week". Throughout this entire week there will be various activities going on in the media center. During lunch on Wednesday, Mr. Larry Ray and Brayden Kill (Senior - Ind. Mech) will be playing their guitars. On Thursday, we will have a guest speaker who does welding art work. I have seen some of his works and they are absolutely astounding. Students who are found reading on their own this week will be rewarded. It should be an exciting time around the media center this week, so I hope you will find the time to stop by and visit.

There is also something I am very excited about going on with "Teen Read Week". The theme this year is "Unleash Your Story Through Art!" Mrs. Knodel has asked staff and students over the past month if they would like to enter drawings/paintings, poetry, metalworks, wood carvings, song lyrics, personal narratives, etc that would unleash their story. This is a way to express what you have lived through, where you are at today, what has shaped you in life and so much more. And this is done all through the wonderful expression of art. I have been overwhelmed with some of the beautiful expressions both the students and staff have depicted either through their writings, poetry, pictures or art work. It is well worth your time to go to the media center and browse some of these very personal  life stories. Some of the things you will encounter will be some art work through welding, glass blowing and wooden bowls made on a lathe. There are some touching stories that took a lot of courage to write but may help start a great conversation that may cause someone healing in their life. Finally, I can't say enough about the artwork. All I can say is that our students are really a talented group of students. Not only is some of the work very detailed and beautiful, but it goes so deep into the artists soul. It expresses so many emotions that sometimes a person can not express verbally.

I want to thank Mrs Knodel for all the wonderful activities she has going on this week. It is not just a break from routine for the students but it just might open up a conversation that will help some other student or even that student. This exercise allows a certain freedom for the students. Something they may want to say or have wanted to say but didn't know how. It allows a quiet student the chance to be heard. It allows a shy student the chance to speak out. Once again, I urge all the students and staff to head down to the media center and "listen" to these students unleash their story through art. Thanks again Mrs. Knodel.