Monday, November 23, 2020

Hard Work - Great Reward

 I want to start off by congratulating the 2020 Division IV Football State Champions - THE VANWERT COUGARS. What an awesome season and what a great tournament run. The way they came back in that final game and then to have a sophomore kick his first field goal for the championship, you can't write a better script. Once again, Congratulations to Kaiden Bates, Xavier Okuly, Andrew Gallagher, Turner Witten, Ries Wise, Killian Sudduth, Kody Kline and Cullen Dunn

I wrote this blog to give special recognition to the players that attend Vantage Career Center. I have had the pleasure of talking with these guys every day during the season and the tourney run. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to attend any games because of Covid-19 but I can tell you that everyone of these guys is a top notch person and student. Their parents/guardians should be so proud of each one of these students. They are polite, very mature and intelligent. It is no wonder that the football team won the championship. There isn't one of theses students that will take credit by themselves. It is always about the team and working together to achieve a goal. I speak with Turner quite a bit and he will be the first to point out that it is the coaches preparation and playing together that gets us the wins. I attribute this to a great coaching staff and coach Recker. 

Recently there was a great article about Cullen Dunn and Turner Witten in the Lima News. These guys along with Kody Kline do a tremendous job of blocking up front and allowing the running back and quarterback to do so well. However, if you read the article there are no "big heads" among them. They are humble and sometimes funny as to what they say. One quote by Turner said that "With me and Cullen Dunn being the most experienced we kind of had to do our part and help out the others which we all know what we are doing so it is just helping each other out to be the best that we all can be". What a great quote. That really says it all. We are just helping out the others just to be the best we can be. Well your "best" just won you a state championship.

I want to close in saying that we can all attest to their brilliant play on the field, but I think you should know that they are all great students in and out of the classroom. Almost all of them are A or B students and show up to school everyday. Their work ethic carries over from the football field and into the classroom. I believe sports can teach you so much about life and how to handle yourself, in good times and in bad. Well this is certainly a great time and I want to thank not only the Vantage football players but all the Van Wert Cougars for bringing something to 2020 that we can all smile about and be proud of.  

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Time Machine

 Good morning, good afternoon and good day. I guess it depends on the time of day you are reading this blog. Whatever time of day it is, thank you for reading. I usually don't put one blog out right after another, but I wanted to stick with the "Coronavirus burnout" theme and try to give all of us a different perspective and help us deal with it. On my way in this morning, I heard on the radio, a gentleman speaking about his 8 year old daughter and her swim lessons. She had just finished a pretty tough lesson on underwater swimming and was pretty frightened during the lesson. On their way home, she was sitting in the backseat and said to her dad, "I wish there was a time machine". Dad found that interesting and asked her, "really, what year would you want to go to?". The daughter said, "not that kind of time machine, but one that would let me skip all the scary parts of life". Isn't that such a neat statement from an innocent child. It got me thinking though and it also reminded me of an old Garth Brooks song, "The Dance".

In the song, "The Dance", it says; "Our lives are better left to chance, I could have missed the pain but I'd have to miss the dance". I started to think how this pandemic is affecting all of us and could this just be a part of our life that later on we will realize how much we learned from it and how much we have grown from it. I'm not saying that I am glad we have the virus, but maybe we can look at how blessed we are with other things in our life, both before the virus and after it is gone. I know many of you have heard a little bit about my life and the family losses I have been through. Both my parents have passed on and I have lost five brothers and a sister. The individual pain of each one of them passing is tough to deal with, especially when they first die. However, if I was promised that I could skip the pain of my siblings deaths and funerals, but the stipulation is that they were never born...I would never ever accept that offer. I feel that way when I listen to "The Dance". I look back on the memories of my siblings and I can laugh and smile at some of the crazy times we had. I wouldn't trade them for anything. 

So, if we did have the time machine, I think we would all just skip over 2020. But was there a "dance" somewhere in there. For myself, I think of all the awesome things our administration has done to get us to this point and still be in school. I think of the closeness that I have gotten with some of my friends and colleagues. I see a group of teachers constantly reaching out to help others during these tough times. I am witnessing a parent/teacher conference like I could have never imagined. We are all doing these conferences remotely and it is going together absolutely incredible. I am sitting at my monitor with a headset on and watching four different conferences and seeing the passion our teachers have for these students. I could go on and on as I know you could too. Take time to think about some of the positives that you are noticing , and that maybe would never have happened if it wasn't for the virus, and write those down. I wouldn't mind hearing about some of those positives. I really do believe that our lives are better left to chance.  

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Don't Let Anxiety Win

 I decided to write this particular blog tonight just because I am starting to see more and more stress around the school and thought maybe there is something I could say that might help us all out. You would think that with our first quarter behind us and already into the second week of the second quarter, and all face to face learning, that we would be excited and relieved. Well I think all of us are pleased that we are able to keep meeting everyday at the school and not have to do online schooling, except for the few that are quarantined. But the fact remains that we have had a few positive cases and several students that had to quarantine. It seems like all of us are in fear that positive cases may increase and we will have to shutdown. I know that lingers over a lot of us. I know that the entire Covid crisis is creating stress on all of us. We are not living life the way we are used to. We don't go out to restaurants and sit down to eat. We are not going to sporting events and watching the students play soccer, football or other sports. Many of us are concerned about our elderly parents and loved ones. The dark mornings and colder weather don't help the situation either. 

Now with all that being said, I do have some things for you to think about as we struggle with these situations and thoughts. First of all, I can't promise that we will not shutdown in some way in the future. We are all doing a great job wearing the mask and social distancing at lunch, but we are not immune. Let all of us continue doing our absolute best as we attend each day, wearing mask properly, washing hands and social distancing. The fact is, we can only control certain things and I believe that is where a lot of the fear and worrying comes from. When we try to control things that are out of our control, that produces anxiety and worry. I have heard so many students say "what if this happens" or "what if that happens". I just want all of you to know that our administration is doing everything in their power to keep all of us safe and keep us attending regularly. 

One of the big things to controlling our anxiety is by not allowing our thoughts to scare us or take over our lives. There is a game that anxiety plays and there are four rules to the game. These four rules will ensure that anxiety wins. If you believe these four rules, anxiety wins.

  1. If any fearful thought pops up, take it seriously.

  2. Once you are scared or worried, try to get rid of these feelings

  3. Assume you don’t have what it takes to solve this problem, so back away.

  4. Anytime you feel anxiety, assume that there is danger.

The way to defeat each of these statements is by using the following remedies:

  1. If any fearful thought pops up, take it seriously.

    1. A thought is a thought

  2. Once you are scared or worried, try to get rid of these feelings.

    1. Observe anxiety

  3. Assume you don’t have what it takes to solve this problem, so back away.

    1. Combat avoidance - it maintains the fear structure

  4. Anytime you feel anxiety, assume that there is danger

    1. Push through anxiety - don’t trust it.

Say to yourself, "okay I'm anxious, no big deal - I will survive it. I really hope all of you will look at all the wonderful things that you do have in your life. Realize that you were able to wake up today and have breakfast, ride to school, be with friends. Think about your loved ones that you can still have conversations with, spend time with. For the staff, think about the blessings in your life and maybe write those down. You will be surprised how long the list is. How many can hug their grandchildren and feel that intense love. For the students; why don't you make a list of all the good things going on in your life right now. Again, you will be amazed at the length of the list. I just want to tell you, we will be back to normal. We will enjoy gatherings with friends and family. We will once again have big weddings and parties. I don't have an answer to when this will be, but we are closer than when we first began this crisis. In the mean time, count your blessings and laugh with others, stay off the news and don't play the Anxiety game. If you need to talk, you know I will always be there for you. Peace!


Tuesday, October 6, 2020

National Technical Honor Society 2020

 On Tuesday evening, October 6th, Vantage Career Center held our annual National Technical Honor Society induction ceremony. The National Technical Honor Society (NTHS) is a way to honor student achievement and leadership in career and technical education, promote educational excellence, award scholarships and enhance career opportunities for the NTHS membership. Obviously this year we could not celebrate like we usually do with a complete banquet, but none the less, we still honored these outstanding students. 

To become an NTHS member, a student must first be carrying a 3.5 GPA or above, have 95% attendance for their Junior and Senior years, no discipline problems in both years and have passed all of their End of Course Exams. If the student meets the above mentioned criteria, then they must write an essay stating why they feel they belong in the NTHS, have three teacher recommendations, submit a resume and complete their application. Once all of this is turned in, a committee of teachers and staff meet to discuss each candidate and determine which students best represent the National Technical Honor Society.

As a member of the National Technical Honor Society, each member has met the seven character attributes, and at the induction ceremony, vowed to continue these attributes. They are: Skill, Honesty, Service, Responsibility, Leadership, Citizenship and Scholarship.

I am so proud of these students because they have made so many great choices in their lives. They not only have been successful here at Vantage and their home school, but I know they will be successful in their future college or work careers. To think about what all these students have gone through this last year, with the shutdown, mask wearing, social distancing, etc., they still have managed to achieve the highest honor we can bestow upon our students. This class will always be special in my eyes. If you happen to see these students in the hallway, in your classes, or in the community, please congratulate them on a great high school career and a great honor in being selected for the National Technical Honor Society. This is a very small percentage of our student body, but they truly are the best of the best.

These are the NTHS members for 2020-2021:

Macein Bigham (Van Wert), Brok Bill (Lincolnview), Riley Boroff (Lincolnview), Johnathon Buehrer (Antwerp), Jordan Buerkle (Antwerp), Kaylee Buzard (Jefferson), Cameron Cox (Wayne Trace), Halie Davis (Antwerp), Kamree Dockery (Continental), Jayde Ducheney (Lincolnview), Courtney Ebbeskotte (St. John), Catelyn Etter (Continental), Faith Gamble (Ottoville), Georgia Gangwer (Parkway), Jason Geyer (Antwerp), Hunter Grant (Antwerp), Connor Haselman (Ottawa Glandorf), Makenna Jones (Antwerp), Laura Kimmet (Ottoville), Kylee Klenz (Ottoville), Greg Lammers (Wayne Trace), Rylyn Lengacher (Antwerp), Chase Martin (St. John), Kara McDonald (Wayne Trace), Bryce Mihm (Parkway), Carson Miller (Ottoville), Eli Molitor (Antwerp), Adriana Myers (Van Wert), Christopher Piske (Lincolnview), Bryce Recker (Continental), Kaitlin Reed (Antwerp), Dylan Schimmoller (Lincolnview), Michaela Shawhan (St. John), Kay'l Sibold (Parkway), Xander Stemen (Lincolnview), Killian Sudduth (Van Wert), Hunter Tegenkamp (Continental), Kaiden Trentman (Ottoville), Tygre Troyer (Continental), Bailee Wallace (Van Wert), Hayden Ward (Continental), Reed Warnement (Continental), Derek Weyrauch (Ft. Jennings), Lydia Will (Ft. Jennings), Hannah Zickefoose (Lincolnview).

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Letting Them Play

 As I began to write this post, I just heard word that the Big Ten will now be playing football this fall. I believe the season will start on October 24th. I'm not sure how the season will look yet or how many teams will be involved, but they will be playing football. That brings me back to the title of this post, "Letting Them Play". If you saw my post last week, I showed a picture of our fall sport athletes. It was great to see so many of our students being involved in sports back at their home school. That is why I want to thank the high schools around this area and all their athletic directors, administrators and others that were involved in the decision to let them play and to also make it safe for them to participate.

High school sports is really an important part of a students overall health and wellness. An article I recently read stated that high school sports promotes physical health during arguably the most important time of a young person's life. Multiple studies have been conducted on the physical benefits of high school sports, and the results are largely positive. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that students who participate in high school sports are less likely to engage in activities that could have a negative impact on their health, such as smoking and drinking. It also reduces the chance of obesity or type 2 diabetes. Sports participation also promotes mental wellness. The stress of performing well both academically and socially can be a heavy burden for students. However, by participating in sports, students not only gain an outlet to relieve that stress, but also to improve their mental health.

High school sports also teaches leadership and teamwork skills. I have witnessed this around our school so often throughout the years. The students who are involved in sports most often are great at working with others in groups, teams, etc. I know I am speaking of sports in this blog, but I have seen the same thing in our Eagle scouts, farmers and all students who have learned these skills. There are so many other skills that high school sports teachers our students, such as mentorship, time management, accountability and responsiblity. 

I know our students have worked so hard at their individual sport and really looked forward to just getting out there and competing. I wish we were able to go watch some of the contest but I realize that this year is different. However, I still like following along by reading the papers or staying up to date with facebook or twitter. Right now I would like to congratulate one of our top athletes. Kaylee Buzard, Sr Health Tech. Last night Kaylee was in the North West Conference (NWC) golf tournament for Delphos Jefferson. Delphos Jefferson won that tournament and became NWC golf champions for the third year in a row. Kaylee shot an amazing 44 last night. Congratulations Kaylee and to the Delphos Jefferson golf team. This is the reason I am glad they play. I hope this brings some normalcy to all the student athletes school year. I realize some teams aren't having the greatest year as far as wins and losses go, but in my eye, you are all winners because you are learning and growing. Good luck the rest of the year!

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

We Appreciate You

 Well this Friday was supposed to be our "Student Appreciation Day" here at Vantage. This is a day that we set aside to show all of our students how much we appreciate them and how much we appreciate them choosing Vantage for their last two years of high school. Once again, the Covid crisis hits us and the health department decides that "Student Appreciation Day" should not be held just yet. We understand their concerns and all of us will do what we can just to remain in school this year. We are hoping that we can hold that special day later in the year.

However, that doesn't mean we still can't let all of you, students and parents, know how grateful we are that you chose Vantage. It takes a lot of courage to leave something that you have been familiar with for the last ten years or so and completely change everything that you are comfortable with. Many of you left friends, classmates or favorite teachers to pursue opportunities that you can't get anywhere else. You have hopes and dreams of landing a great career or moving on to college to further expand your knowledge in your field of choice. Some of you just wanted a fresh start or to make a change in your educational path. Whatever the reason is, all of us here at Vantage want to say THANK YOU! Thank you for trusting us with the responsibility of preparing you for the work force or higher education. Thank you for believing in us to provide you with the tools to make you successful. We don't take that responsibility lightly. We will do everything we can to make your choice of coming to Vantage, the right choice. 

Now I would like to address the parents and guardians of our students. Thank you for trusting us with your most precious possessions. We realize that it was probably a tough decision for some of you to make. This might be your first child you sent to Vantage and you weren't sure of what to expect. Maybe your student has had siblings or cousins come to Vantage and you heard a lot of great things but were still hesitant. Entering a new school with the Covid crisis going on can also be difficult and confusing. I just want all of you to know that your students are in great hands here at Vantage and we will do everything to make him or her successful. I also want you to know that you should be very proud of your student for making the tough choice that they did. I know it has only been a few short weeks that we have been in school but I want to let you know that you should be proud of them for the way the carry themselves and for how polite and kind they are. I have heard from so many staff members that our seniors and juniors this year are some of the best students we have had. I know that our Senior class is such a pleasure to be around and that they are tough and resilient. For all that they had to go through at the end of last year, and to see the positive attitude they came back to school with, is just amazing. We have so many new rules with masks, social distancing, sanitizing, and having four lunches, that to see our students adjust in such a smooth way is a testimony to how you have raised them. For that we say thank you.

In closing, I just want to say a special thanks to all the student athletes, band members, etc that chose to come to Vantage. I am sure you have seen the picture by now on Twitter or our Facebook page, but I also wanted to share it with you. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and when you look at that picture above, you have to be impressed. It takes a lot of discipline and hard work to play any type of sport or cheer or play in band. These are the types of students who are attending Vantage. Leaders, hard workers and students who are committed to a goal. What an impressive picture and what an impressive group of students we have in the Class of 2021 and 2022. Thank you, we truly appreciate it!

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Hard Times

 I believe that everyone of us would have to say that we as a nation and all of us personally, are going through some hard times. This isn't the world we are used to and this isn't something that we have ever lived with before. It is new for all of us. We aren't comfortable with the isolation, the masks, the social distancing and whatever new rules we have to follow. All of us long for the "good ole days" and wish we could turn back time. However, this new normal is a reality for now. I am not sure how long it will be like this and I don't think many of the experts know how long it will be like this. What I do know is that we have the choice in how we will deal with it. Like all situations, I feel we can stay positive or we can be negative. The old saying, the glass is half full or half empty. I believe now is the time to say the glass is half full.

We are starting a new school year and all of us are hoping that things go well and we can continue to meet face to face for the entire year. I don't think any of us want to go back to virtual learning. Our school has had to make a lot of changes so that we can start school on time and have students in our building. This was not an easy task. I personally would like to thank so many of our staff and administration for the tremendous amount of work they did over the summer so that we can start on time and safely. I always hate to leave anyone out but I know the following staff put in a lot of hours and dealt with a lot of frustrations to get us where we are at today: Mr. Turner, Mr. Knott, Mrs. VanTilburg, Mr. Verhoff, Ms. Temple, Mr. Darrell Miller, Mrs. Gillett, Mrs Yearling, Mr. Compton, Mrs. Falk, Mrs. Lippi, Mrs. Owens, the entire front office staff and all of our maintenance crew. The different scenarios and situations that this group had to deal with is beyond comprehension. They were in constant contact with the health department and our school board to make sure we have the safest possible environment for our students and that we would be able to meet face to face. Once again, thank you to each and everyone of you. I am so proud to work for Vantage Career Center and my fellow workers.

I realize when the teachers and students return, things will be quite different. We now have four lunch times to deal with. There are new class time periods, 4A, 4B, 5A and 5B that we have to deal with. We will not all be eating lunch in the commons. I promise you, things will not go like you were used to last year. There will be bumps in the road and glitches that need to be smoothed out. There will be new problems that have to be solved or issues that haven't been thought of. I just ask that everyone be patient and know that things will work out. The bottom line is that we want what is best for our students. I want our seniors to have a great final year built with a lot of great memories. I don't want them to miss out on graduation ceremonies or our award ceremony at the Niswonger center. I hope we can make their final year fun and enjoyable and get their mind off of the virus, even for a little while. If all of us stay positive and not complain about some frustrations that we may encounter, I promise you this could be a great year. A positive attitude is contagious but unfortunately, so is a negative attitude. So even though we will be wearing mask, maybe not sitting with our friends at lunch or dealing with things we aren't used to, please let us all be upbeat. You know, we are only given 24 hours each day. Let us make the most of those hours and hope for a better tomorrow. 

Let me leave you with this final quote from Bob Riley, "Hard times don't create heroes. It is during the hard times when the "hero" within us is revealed".