Monday, May 15, 2017

Farewell Class of 2017

My Wish

As the school year is winding down, I don't want to miss the opportunity to say goodbye to the graduating class of 2017. In just a few short days the seniors will be on their way and beginning an entire new chapter in their life. At the end of the year I like to include the words to one of my favorite songs, "MY WISH" by Rascal Flatts. The song was written and released in 2006 and I have always thought it had the perfect words to say to the students leaving Vantage. If you get a chance, go to YouTube and listen to it, you will enjoy. The song starts out by saying...

   "I hope the days come easy and the moments pass slow, and each road leads you where you wanna go, and if you're faced with a choice, and you have to choose, I hope you choose the one that means the most to you. And if one door opens to another door closed, I hope you keep on walkin' till you find the window, if it's cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile. But more than anything, more than anything... My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to, Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small, You never need to carry more than you can haul, and while you're out there getting where you're getting to, I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too, Yeah, this is my wish".

As the words say, I really do hope you enjoy life, take it one day at a time and don't get upset by some of the little things you will face. I hope you never give up when you run into trouble. Please don't give up on your dreams, use them as motivation. I also want you to know that wherever you end up or whatever you end up doing, I do care for you and I do want the same thing for you. My door is always open after you leave. Feel free to call or email me anytime. I welcome it.

   "I hope you never look back, but you never forget, All the ones who love you, in the place you live, I hope you always forgive, and you never regret, And you help somebody every chance you get. Oh you find God's grace in every mistake, and always give more than you take".

Some pretty simple rules that will help you as you head out into the "real world". Don't hold on to grudges or hold on to your anger just because someone may have made you upset. You will find that when you forgive, you will be released and set free from an invisible prison. You will be a better person because of it. Please continue to give back to the community in which you live. You will not believe how good it feels when you reach out and help someone. Many of you have volunteered while you were in school, keep it up every chance you get.

I know that some of you reading this may have been in my office because you were upset about a mistake you made or something you regretted doing. Remember that I have always told you that you learn from your mistakes. We all make them but it is the mature person who learns from it and grows as a person. Hold on to this bit of advice and don't forget it. I guarantee you will need it again some time in the future. We all make mistakes. Finally as the lyrics above started out with, I hope you never forget. Come back and visit us or send us a quick e-mail to let us know how you are doing.

So there it is, my wish for all of you seniors who are leaving us in a few short days. I thank you for trusting me with your friendship, your troubles and your last two years of high school. Good luck in all you do. As for all my other readers, this is my final blog of the school year. Thanks as always for reading the blog, the kind comments and the inspiration. Have a great summer!

Sunday, April 30, 2017


Fast. That's what the next three weeks will feel like for most of our seniors. It is hard to believe but they will be done in just three short weeks. Before any of you seniors realize it, you will be walking across the stage at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center on May 19th. In those three short weeks, you will be preparing your senior portfolio, getting your graduation stuff together, making plans for graduation parties and taking final exams. I know some of you may be thinking that May 19th can't come quick enough, but I hope that you will take some time and really think about your last 12 years of school, your accomplishments, all your friends and those happy and maybe sad memories. Take time to reflect about your four years of high school and think about these questions. Did you accomplish any of the goals you set for yourself? Are you where you thought you would be when you started ninth grade? How has life changed for you over the last four years? These are all good points to ponder as you begin your next stage of life. I believe they will help you plan future goals based on how you met your earlier goals or maybe you never set any earlier goals and now you would like to.

Fast. That really is what life feels like, no matter how old or young you are. There is a country song out now by Luke Bryan and it is called "Fast". In the song he says, "60 seconds now feels more like 30...Sand through the glass sure falls in a hurry and all you keep trying to do is slow it down, soak it in. Keep trying to make the good times last as long as you can but you can't, man it just goes to fast". I was thinking to myself, sure Luke Bryan is 41 years old and he thinks 60 seconds now feels like 30, wait until he gets to be my age. Sixty seconds now feels like fifteen. All joking aside, life does go by fast and I hope that each of you will take the time over the next three weeks to appreciate all you have earned and all that you have ahead of you. I hope that all of you will finish strong and complete all your assignments. If you have any questions regarding your grades or your graduation status, please stop by my office so we can talk. Even if you don't have any concerns or questions, I truly hope you will stop by my office one more time to chat, say hello and let's talk about your future plans. Believe it or not, I will miss many of you and always look forward to our open houses when so many of you come back to say hello and update me on your life. I just ran in to a former AG student at the Big R in Lima yesterday and we had a nice conversation. I was shocked when I found out he has been out of Vantage for almost eight years. One of the things he mentioned to me was how fast those eight years have gone by. Funny, that's what I was thinking.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Field of Dreams

First of all I apologize for the long time in between posts. It has really been crazy around school and there have been so many things going on as we finish the school year. I titled this post Field of Dreams because I was lucky enough to take our National Technical Honor Society members to the Fort Wayne Tin Caps game the other day. Mr. Unverferth came up with the idea to give these excellent students a day off for all their hard work over the last couple of years and treat them to a day they truly deserved. Well I will tell you we were certainly blessed with absolutely beautiful weather that day. The seats Mr. U got for us were unbelievable. We were the first row, right next to the home dugout on the first base line. Being this close to the game kept all of us on our toes, keeping an eye out for the line drive foul balls.

As I looked out at the players as they stretched before the game, I thought about all their dreams and hopes for the future. The Tin Caps are the Single A team for the San Diego Padres. Most of these players are right out of college and are putting everything on the line to make the "Big Show", the major leagues. The odds of a lot of these players making the pros isn't very high but certainly many of them do make it to the next level and then into the majors. It is a dream they have and they work very hard to obtain it.

It didn't take me long to look at our students sitting all around me and realize that these students who are the best of the best at Vantage, also are about to set out with so many hopes and dreams. They will work hard to obtain those goals and I know they will. They have their entire life ahead of them. They have opportunities that many of us never had. They will fall, get back up, suffer disappointments and celebrate great achievements. I am proud of all of these students and I can tell you that our future is in very good hands. To be able to spend a few hours with these students made me realize that we all need to hold on to our dreams, encourage others in their dreams and be proud of our youth here at Vantage. They truly are our future and ready to get out on the field.

In closing, I can't help but mention what an awesome night we had here at Vantage on Wednesday. The R.K. Thompson banquet was held to honor students from Crestview, Van Wert, Lincolnview and Vantage, who have overcome some pretty tough obstacles in their life and still have been successful. All 10 finalist have some outstanding stories and they should all be proud of where they are. The two winners, one male and one female, were both from our Welding program. They are Bailey Stegaman and Marcus Tarlton. Congratulations to these two outstanding students and their instructor Mr. Brent Wright, who was also a R.K. Thompson winner. Once again, two students ready to set out on their field of dreams.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Beautiful Conversation

Every once in awhile you get that opportunity in life where you realize you're in a special moment exactly at the same time you are living that moment. I was blessed to have that opportunity this past week. I had the pleasure of meeting and sitting down with Mrs. Van Oss (Industrial Mechanic Instructor, Kevin Van Oss' mother). As I have mentioned in a previous blog, Mrs Van Oss is a dedicated reader of my blog and in her own words states, "I never miss a single one". I have heard so many nice things about Kevin's mother that I was really looking forward to meeting her some day.

Well like I said, that day came last Friday and I am the better person for having that sit down conversation. As I sat in this very comfortable kitchen setting with Ted Verhoff, Kevin Van Oss and his mother, I couldn't have felt more at peace. Mrs. Van Oss is 94 years young and gives off such an aura of peace and kindness that it can be felt just in her smile. You would think that a woman who has lived through a World War, Korean War, Vietnam, the Great Depression, and 16 Presidents would have a lot to complain about. However, not once did she ever give the slightest hint that she was bitter or angry at life, it was just the opposite. She talked about how blessed she has been in her life. How she was happily married to a great guy and a hard working husband who always provided everything her family needed. How blessed she was for having four wonderful children who are still around and love her so much. I asked her if she thought the world was a lot better back when she was younger than it is today. She answered very quickly and said, "no, I don't think it really was. I look at all the things available today like the internet, and modern conveniences and I think we are still doing good today". What a great attitude. I did not expect that response because of all the bad news we hear about on the television, internet and newspapers everyday, but this is how Mrs Van Oss looks at life. I believe that her outlook on life is one of the main contributions to her long life. I believe we can all learn from looking at life in a more positive way rather than focusing on the negatives.

Often times I talk with students about avoiding negative people because they will bring you down. I tell them to find friends that you really enjoy being around. To hang out with friends who lift you up and encourage you rather than friends who bring you down by their actions or words. Often times in life we feel that we need "things" to make us happy, when really it comes down to what type of person are you. Do people want to be around you? Are others attracted to you because you build them up and encourage them? If you think about everything Mrs. Van Oss has gone through and then see the wonderful spirit she carries with her, you begin to look at your own life differently. As many of you are getting ready to graduate and go out into the world, I hope you will check yourself and see if you are pleasant to be around, do you look at the positive side of life, are you laughing more than complaining. I need to check myself daily and hope that someday I will be able to share peace, contentment and love all with a smile and some kind words. Thanks Mrs. Van Oss for doing that for me.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Teens & Tires

Recently I had the opportunity to preview and judge a Business Professionals of America (BPA) project that was done in our Interactive Media class. Three students from that class, Andrea Kremer, Aubrey Kremer, and Alex Foust, put together a public service message on the danger of car tire wear and accidents that are caused by worn out tires. These three students competed at the district level and then went on to compete at the state level. Unfortunately they did not finish high enough to move on to the Nationals in Florida but nonetheless, they did an awesome job.

I have included the youtube video of their project. I hope you will take the time to watch it and pay attention. There are some very good tips and some interesting statistics that are provided. After watching the video, I went out and checked my tires and noticed that they were worn out badly. I took advantage of our day off this past Tuesday and purchased four new tires for my vehicle. I thanked each one of these students for reminding all of us about the importance of checking our car tires.

Not only is the video a great message for everybody, but it is well worth watching just to see the awesome work that Mrs Jill DeWert is teaching our Interactive Media students. This video is a first class presentation. While watching the video, notice all the different camera angles, the different visuals and the great job they did with the interviews. Also, notice the last scene when the blue car is driving away. Alex hooked up a Go-Pro camera to his vehicle with duct tape and drove down the road. It came out pretty cool looking and I'm glad to say, the duct tape held. I am very proud of Alex, Andrea and Aubrey and I hope you will be too after watching "Teens & Tires". Great job and congratulations to all three.

Click here to watch the video.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Sticks and Stones

I'm sure everyone remembers the old saying "sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me". Well that isn't necessarily true when it comes to bullying and name-calling. I recently read an excellent article by Sherri Gordon on the "Very Well" website. Sherri mentions name-calling is a particularly harmful way of bullying because it labels another person and attempts to define who they are. It leaves victims with negative messages of who they are.  Sherri states that when someone is called "fat", "retard", or "nerd" enough times, this ruins their self-esteem, sense of self worth and self-concept. Basically the person begins to tell themselves that they are not good enough or they don't measure up.

The article mentions nine ways that a person can become affected by name calling. I want you to take a close look at these and truly grasp the damage that can be done to a person. Here they are:

1) Name-calling erodes a person's sense of self
     - eating away at self esteem
2) Name-calling causes kids to compromise their beliefs and values
     - if called a "goody-goody", student's may try to shake that image by doing things that go against their belief system.
3) Name-calling affects a victim's sense of well being
     - victims make excuses to miss school and avoid outside activities
4) Name-calling impacts a person's identity
     - a hurtful label can become a part of who that person is
5) Name-calling opens the door to violence
     - many hate crimes begin with name-calling
6) Name-calling encourages internal criticism
     - if a person is called a "loser", they begin to call themselves a "loser"
7) Name-calling impacts mood
     - changes in sleeping habits and moods
8) Name-calling affects mental health
     - research shows name-calling leads to depression and possibly suicide
9) Name-calling affects physical health
     - upset stomachs, headaches, stress disorders, ulcers, etc

I can't imagine that a person would wake up and say to themselves "whose day can I ruin today?". I tend to think that a person may make comments that they seem are innocent and not realize how much they may hurt someone. I hope this article will help people understand how words can definitely hurt worse than sticks and stones. If you are a student who makes fun of others, I hope you will realize the immense pain you are causing the other student. I hope that you will think before you speak. If you are a student who hears another student name-calling, please stop them and explain how they are hurting that person. Maybe you could show them this article. Finally, if you are a victim of someone else's name-calling, please know that you are not at fault. You are not those "names" they are putting on you. You are special, you are important and you are loved. The staff here at Vantage care about you and we will be there for you. Please stop down to my office so we can talk about what is going on. You have lived with that pain long enough, it is time to take back your life. I would love to walk that journey with you and allow you to see how great and wonderful you really are.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Walk In My Shoes

In my position as a school counselor, I have been able to talk with a lot of students and hear a lot of stories about their lives. Some of these stories are funny and some can be very sad. I always get inspired this time of year as the students turn in their essays for the R.K. Thompson scholarship. This scholarship is based on a students self reliance. In other words, how they have made it through some tough struggles in their life and still managed to be an outstanding student and citizen. These students manage to make it against all odds and excel in school and also usually work a lot of hours. I don't know if I would have been able to go through some of the things that they have had to go through and still be successful. I believe we have a lot of great candidates this year and I am excited to see the scholarship winners for 2017.

As I was thinking about the R.K. Thompson scholarship, I couldn't help but think about the students on the other side of the spectrum. I'm talking about the students who look they have it all together. They still have both parents living at home, they have food on the table every night and they drive nice cars or trucks. They usually play in a sport or two and are almost always on the honor roll. I'm sure you are thinking as you read this, "what's wrong with those students, they have it made". Well believe it or not, I also see those students in my office. I have sat across from these students and watched them as they teared up and told me stories about how they are outcast because everyone thinks they have it made. Others think that they are spoiled or that they have a life that everyone would envy. They actually can't make friends because "they just don't fit in". Mr. Unverferth talked about perception in one of his blogs and I can tell you that these students hurt because of the perception that others have of them. As I talk with these students, I hear stories of alcoholism, keeping family secrets, acting like everything is okay and also a lack of love. I hear these students tell me that they have never been told they are loved or even had the chance to hug a parent because of fear.

I really want to mention this because maybe we are all guilty of judging others wrongly. Maybe we tend to think some people have it all together when they really don't. I hope that we will keep this in mind when we encounter someone. I hope we will truly listen to everyone and allow ourselves to be open minded. To take the time to really get to know the people around us. I believe we are all really tired of all the hate in politics and in the world today. We can't change the world overnight but maybe by trying to understand a little bit about our neighbor, we can make our world a little bit better. The old saying really is true, "Never criticize a man until you've walked a mile in his moccasins.