Thursday, March 15, 2018

Flap Jack Friday

Well Friday marks the end of the 3rd quarter. As the old saying goes, time flies when you are having fun. I guess there is a lot of truth in that statement especially around here at Vantage. I have spoken with so many of our students lately and I like asking them if they are glad they chose Vantage. I have never gotten a negative response. They use various responses like "I feel treated like an adult here" or "I just really love my lab", but the one I hear most often is "it is fun here". I often ask them what they mean by that and they tell me that they just really enjoy being in lab for a half day. They also state because they are in lab for a half day, it makes going to academics so much easier. Of course the students love their lab but I also see so many academic classes having fun. I see students out in the hallways measuring objects or their stride lengths. I see them flying paper airplanes for science. We just completed our numeracy challenge a week or two ago and will be sending several students to the next level for that competition. I know in Science they will begin their "roller coaster" construction very soon (just look at all the cardboard in Mr. Joyce's classroom). If you haven't seen this before, you should really stop in Mr. Joyce's class while that is going on. Talk about fun! WOW! Combining academics and fun to make a great learning experience. What a novel idea. I think that says a lot about our lab instructors and our academic teachers. Thanks for engaging our students and challenging them to go above and beyond what they think they can do.

This Friday we will also be celebrating the end of the third quarter and saying thanks to all our students and staff. There will be a free breakfast starting at 7:30 am. Several of our staff members will be flipping pancakes and cooking sausage in the wee hours of the morning. I hope students will try to get here early and mingle with the staff and enjoy a nice breakfast. I want to thank Gail Gillett for organizing all of this and for the staff who have volunteered to help.

For those students who may have seen their grades drop a little during the third quarter, now is the time to get it in gear. There are only 42 days left for the seniors. If you are in danger of not passing a class, now is the time to put in the extra effort and work hard. This is not the time to have "senioritis". For all the students, these next 42 days will fly by. Make the most out of these days. Work hard, earn good grades and most of all have fun while you are learning. I hope to see everyone tomorrow morning at the pancake breakfast.

Monday, February 26, 2018

One Of A Kind

It is with a sad heart that all of us at Vantage Career Center have to say good-bye to Mrs. Mary Jo Wilhelm as she will be leaving us at the end of the school year to begin a well deserved retirement. I have worked at a lot of places throughout my career and I have met a lot of people. I have also been through a lot of retirements and people leaving for other jobs. One of the first statements that usually comes up is "they are going to be really hard to replace". I have learned over the years that most people can be replaced and the business does quite well even without them. When I left the engineering firm that I was at, I was serving as Vice-President/General Manager. I humbly admit that at the time I thought "I sure hope they will be okay without me". Well they made it quite fine and ended up going global. So much for getting a big head. However, when I say this about Mary Jo, I truly mean it and believe in my heart that she will be tough to replace. I realize someone will come along and they will do an awesome job and we will welcome them. Mary Jo however is a different type employee. Mary Jo truly gives 100% of herself to her job and has always loved what she was doing.

Just a sample of some of the things that Mary Jo has done for Vantage over the years. Mary Jo is the first contact for any outside people that visit Vantage. She is the person who sends out all the messages on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. She alerts all of us about school delays, cancellations, special meetings and any other important issues. Our levies have passed because the people believe in our school and have seen results, a lot of this is because of the hard work and effort Mary Jo has put into it. She keeps a large part of our web page updated. Mary Jo has to contact all the newspapers and inform them of activities and special events that are going on here at Vantage. She runs the open house every year, student orientations, ice cream socials, student ambassadors, a big part of the graduation ceremony and is involved in the FFA banquet and NTHS banquet. This is just a small part of her duties and she will be the first to tell you that she gets a lot of help (thanks Annette). It's not just that she does so much around here but the fact that she does it with such a big heart. Whenever she puts a picture of an event in the newspaper, she makes sure that whatever town the newspaper is in, that there are students from that home school in the picture. A little detail but it is important to Mary Jo. When we have dignitaries from Columbus visit the school she makes sure Vantage is looking in top notch shape and we are all at our best. It's important to her that her "family and home" look great to all who visit. I think the way Mary Jo looked at Vantage is about the same way my mom, and yours, looked at their family. Our parents were proud to pull out the wallet or purse and show pictures of how the children have grown and brag about them a little bit. Well Mary Jo liked to show how much Vantage has grown and brag on our school also.

I envy Mary Jo a little bit now. She is going into retirement at a time in her life when she knows it is the right thing to do. She will spend time with her beautiful grandchildren, children and even put up with John a little more. I will miss the many conversations that we have had over the years. The many "counseling sessions" when we both needed to let off some steam or discuss family issues.

Yes they will find someone to sit in your chair and perform your duties but you will never be replaced. You are truly one of a kind Mary Jo and I will miss you. Thanks for all you have done and for making Vantage a better place to work. Keep in touch and God Bless.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Living The Dream

For those of you that read this post on a regular basis, you will know that I like country music and I find a lot of inspiration for my blog through country music. One thing that you may not be aware of is the fact that Mr. Van Oss also shares my love of country music. On several occasions we will mention a new song we heard and see what the other person thinks about it. Well not long ago, I received a text message from Mr, Van Oss asking me to listen to a new song by Luke Bryan called "Most People Are Good". I would hope that even if you are not a fan of country music, that you would listen or watch this one on YouTube.

There are so many great lyrics but I really want to highlight a couple that stood out to me. The song starts out with "I believe kids oughta stay kids as long as they can. Turn off the screen, go climb a tree, get dirt on their hands." How true is that statement. The number of students I see that deal with stress and anxiety continues to grow. I believe that most of the time it is because these students end up having to deal with adult issues and adult problems when they are just sixteen and seventeen. I truly wish they wouldn't have to worry about parents, helping pay the rent, working right after school until 11:00 pm or where their next meal is coming from. I wish they could just be kids.

Another lyric that rings really true for today is "I believe if you just go by the nightly news, Your faith in all mankind would be the first thing you lose." How true is that. It is easy to get so caught up in today's headlines that we forget to look around and see the really great things happening. Like the saying goes, "stop and smell the roses".

The chorus throughout the song says "I believe most people are good, and most Mama's oughta qualify for sainthood...I believe this world ain't half as bad as it looks, I believe most people are good." My wish is that you would not focus so much on all the trouble talked about daily in the news and take a good look around you. Take a look at the people you go to school with, the people you work with and the people you hang around with. I think you would agree that most people are good. They want the same thing you want out of life. A good day, a good laugh, maybe a tear every once in awhile and certainly good friends.

Lately I have spent a lot of time looking around and noticing that I am surrounded by some really good people. Talking with Mr. Joyce the other day we both came to that same agreement and we agreed that working at Vantage is almost like we are "living the dream".

Monday, January 29, 2018

You Deserve Better

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Teen DV Month (sometimes called TDVAM) is a national effort to raise awareness about abuse in teen and 20-something relationships and promote programs that prevent it. I realize we are getting close to Valentines day and people think about romance and love but it is also a good time to talk about the other side of that coin.

Most people have their first relationship while in high school or college. It's new, exciting, thrilling and sometimes sexual. Unfortunately, this can also be some of the most dangerous times in a woman's life. Women ages 16 - 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence. In fact, nearly 1.5 million high school students experience physical abuse from a dating partner each year and more than half of the women who are raped are under the age of 18. Dating violence is the use of power and control over one individual by someone who is supposed to care about him or her. Dating violence is not only just physical, but can also be emotional and psychological abuse and include behaviors such as stalking, isolation of friends and family and being possessive.  Since this is often their first love or serious relationship, many young people may not know the red flags or identify problematic behaviors.

According to the Project Aware Ohio website, 1 in 3 teens has been a victim of dating violence and about 1 in 3 has committed relationship violence. 9.6% of high school students in a dating relationship have been physically hurt on purpose (being hit, slammed into something, or injured with an object or weapon) by a boyfriend or girlfriend. 10.6% of high school students in a dating relationship have been forced to do sexual things by a boyfriend or girlfriend. I think it is important that you realize that teen dating violence is not just hitting but also includes controlling another person. If your dating partner will not let you hang out with your friends, if they call or text you constantly to find out where you are, if they tell you what to wear, or if they want you to be with them at all times, then these are signs of controlling behavior. Do not settle for this.

The sad part about teen dating violence is that only 33% of teens who were in an abusive relationship ever told anyone about the abuse. It is time to end the silence on dating violence. Please speak up if you see one of your friends in a violent relationship. Please come see me if you are in that type of relationship, or if you aren't sure but have concerns. There is help and I want to help you. You do not need to take this abuse. Help a friend before it is to late and remember once is too many times. You deserve better than this.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Don't Forget to Stretch

I heard an interesting comment the other day and I found it not only interesting but also that it really pertained to the students here at Vantage. The gentleman was describing that we should live our lives similar to that of a rubber band. Instantly I was intrigued as he began to explain what he meant. He said that a rubber band is not designed to function when it is just sitting there. It is never being used for its true purpose until it is stretched. I have seen some amazing things from our students when they truly "stretch" themselves. I have watched students who were afraid to speak in public do an amazing job when they got up in front of a classroom. Every year at graduation I watch as students give a wonderful farewell speech to their classmates, but only weeks before they said they could never get up on stage and speak. I also have been witness to several students over the years who never dreamed they could compete at the Skills USA contest, only to go on and win the entire competition.

The point I am trying to make is that everyone of these students had to get out of their comfort zone and, like a rubber band, stretch themselves. I also believe that we were not created to be complacent in our everyday life. I feel we need to get out of our comfort zone and experience new things. We were designed for so much more but we will never know how much we are capable of until we stretch ourselves. It doesn't have to be something big like moving to another country after graduation (although it could be) or wanting to go skydiving (not a chance I would do that). It could be something simple like sitting down at a lunch table with someone who is alone. Introducing yourself to a new student that you haven't met yet. There are several opportunities in your labs and in the classroom where you could do something you never saw yourself doing. How about signing up for the Poetry Out Loud contest or volunteering to represent your lab at BPA or Skills USA?

I hope you will think about stretching yourself. Maybe the next time a teacher asks for a volunteer to do something that you never saw yourself doing before, you will go ahead and raise your hand. If you feel uncomfortable, awkward or strange doing this then that is a good thing. You are growing and becoming all that you were meant to be. Well as we start our second semester, I hope you will work hard and finish strong this year. The rest of this school year will fly by and before you know it the seniors will be graduating. Remember it is not a sprint but a marathon, don't forget to stretch.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A Very Merry Christmas

Well Christmas is just a few days away and I know many of you are looking forward to the time off of school and spending time with friends and family. I hope that all of you will find the time to relax and soak in the spirit of this beautiful holiday. I realize it is also a sad time for many as we think about loved ones who are no longer with us. My wish is that you would be able to think about all the wonderful memories you shared with that special person and also remember how lucky you were to have known them. One thing that Christmas reminds us of is the fact that life goes by pretty fast. Many of us remember when our children were young and so excited to see the toys on Christmas morning and then in a blink, they are raising children of their own. I don't think that is a bad thing, it is just the way life goes. I plan on spending time with my granddaughter who is almost three years old now. I want to watch the excitement in her eyes as she bakes cookies, watches the Christmas lights and opens her presents on Christmas Eve. I am certain I will be thinking about my parents who provided so many great Christmas memories for our family but are no longer around to see their great-grandchildren grow. I will chat long distance to my brothers and sister and share memories all over again. Most of all however, I will remember the real reason for the season and count my blessings. I hope you will do that also. Have a very Merry Christmas and see you back here on the 3rd of January.

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!