Friday, March 27, 2020

GRATEFUL

I hope everyone is managing to find some sense of normalcy during this Coronavirus shutdown. I have talked to or emailed several of you and I am encouraged to find you are finding things to do to keep busy and keep your mind off of all the news reports and negativity. I have also heard so many great reports that our students are checking in everyday and joining Google Meetings and getting their assignments completed. You guys are really awesome and I appreciate all the effort you are putting forth. I hope everyone is finding time to watch the morning announcements each day. They are informative and sometimes pretty entertaining.

One thing Mr. Knott mentioned on Monday during his "movie quote" day, was a great quote from the movie "Good Will Hunting". "You will have bad times but it'll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren't paying attention to".  I started to think about the good stuff I wasn't paying attention to and realized that maybe this tough time we are going through really does help you appreciate the things we do everyday and aren't really grateful for. I know I miss seeing Mr. Verhoff in the parking lot waving to all the students as they come and go. I miss my morning coffee while standing in the hallway greeting the students coming into school in the morning. I truly miss the students and having conversations with Chase Martin in the morning. I appreciate all the lunch times where I get to walk the lunch room and speak with the students. Eating lunch at home is cheaper, but I really appreciate my lunch room buddies and our conversations. I have read a few good books while I am off but I miss going into the media center and talking to Mrs. Knodel about them. I could go on and on with all the things I truly appreciate since this shutdown. Our teachers, staff and administration are AWESOME! What else can I say. They have been leaders throughout this entire crisis and have made the best decisions in the interest of the staff and students. Thank all of you. I hope you will take the time to practice this exercise. Think about what you miss that you used to take for granted. Maybe when we return we will all have a little different perspective.

One last thing I would like to mention for all of you who may be feeling down or sad at this time. I just read an article that stated that "Science says Gratitude is good for your body, mind, emotions and relationships". Studies show that when we are grateful we experience more energy, less anxiety and more restful sleep. It's good for our health, our happiness, our relationships, even our longevity. They say that being grateful has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression. As I write this, it is with a heavy heart. My older brother passed away yesterday. He had been suffering with cancer for about two years. I know he is at peace now. I remember he used to get up so early every morning all his life. I asked him one time why he did this and he said, "Jim, you only get so many sunrises and sunsets in a your lifetime. I want to enjoy everyone of them". I think he died grateful and taught me a long time ago to be grateful for so many things. I know we are in strange times but my wish for all of you is that you would write down the things you are grateful for. Things that you truly appreciate in your life. Every once in awhile it will do you good to take a look at that list and be thankful. I hope some of the things I mentioned will help you as we go through these uncertain times. Remember that you can email me anytime you want and I will get back with you as soon as possible. If you need to talk, we can arrange that. Take care and be grateful.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

The New Normal

As I type this blog, sitting in my home office (Dining room), I can't help but think how strange all of this is. I am sure it is just as strange for all of you students also. I think this is something we will have to get used to for quite awhile. I hope everyone is checking in to their classes everyday and doing their assignments. If you haven't been doing this, you need to check in everyday and be working on your assignments. If not, you will be marked absent and receive zeroes for your work. Mr. Miller will also be making calls and see why you haven't been checking in. Third quarter grades should be posted tomorrow, Friday March 20th. For all of you seniors that are going on to college, here is a good article to read: https://pleasantonweekly.com/blogs/p/2020/03/12/finishing-strong-colleges-can-revoke-admission-offers. The article is a reminder that colleges can still pull back your acceptance it they feel your grades dropped the last quarter of your senior year. I just want everyone to work hard and finish strong and lets get this crazy year over with.

I also found some information that I thought would be useful for anyone who is feeling a little stressed through all of this. I use an app called "Calm" and they are offering a lot of free resources during this Coronavirus crisis. They offer a lot of useful ways to keep yourself relaxed, calm and less stressed. Please check it out here: https://www.calm.com/blog/take-a-deep-breath?utm_source=lifecycle&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=difficult_times_nonsubs_031720

Finally, I hope you are watching our morning announcements each day. Mr. Knott is streaming a video of himself as he reads the morning announcements each day. This is another way to keep connected and stay in a routine. I hope you will watch this mornings video because it ends in a really cute way. I won't spoil it for you though. Take care and stay stress free.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Here to Help

What a strange and unusual time we are living in. As most of you are trying to get used to not having school for at least three weeks, many of the staff and administration are trying to figure this all out too. I have to admit that it seems kind of surreal. It truly is bizarre not having spring sports or practices. Having the state tournaments cancelled after so much hard work from all the athletes and watching the news that is 100% focused on the virus. It seems like there are so many questions that all of you have and yet no one has an answer yet. That is the frustrating part for all of you, I am sure. I realize you have questions about graduation, proms, college admissions and even your jobs. I will not try to answer any of those questions on my blog unless I hear from administration. What I can suggest is that you keep watching our social media posts. These will keep all of you updated as more and more information becomes available.

What I will do on this blog is try to put all of you a little more at ease. I want you to know that you can email me 24/7 while we are off school. I have answered several emails already just in the last few days. I will do my best to get back to you in a timely manner. If you are having stress or anxiety and just want to chat, then please email me and we can do that. My email is: fisher.j@vantagecareercenter.com . I would suggest that while you are off school for awhile, that you would avoid watching the news constantly. Please try not to constantly look at your phone for latest news and updates. Too much information can overwhelm you and cause you more stress and anxiety. Also, so many of the social media sites are just gossip and not actual facts. This could be a time where you connect more with yourself and your family. Take time to read a good book, play a board game, go outside for a walk or even a run. Ride your bike and take time to be thankful for the beautiful things you see outside. I also believe writing in a journal can help you take your mind off the stressful things. Write down your thoughts, feelings, reflections, joys, sorrows, things you are thankful for, things you dream about and any other things you want to put down on paper. Finally, do your school work. All of your teachers have discussed how you can access your assignments. It might be Google Classroom or via email. Whatever way is used, get your assignments done. You are still responsible for them. If you have questions on an assignment, email your teacher. They will be getting back to you in a timely manner.

I would like to leave you with a couple thoughts from the coronavirus.ohio.gov web site. Remember that the majority of people who contract COVID-19 will have only minor symptoms and will not need to be hospitalized. The elderly with underlying conditions are the ones most at risk. You can do your part by washing hands with water and soap, avoid contact with people who are sick, stay home when you are sick, cover your mouth with tissues or sleeve when coughing or sneezing, avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth with unwashed hands and practice good hygiene habits. Most of all, I hope you will find ways to reduce your anxiety over this, it will pass. I care about you and I want you to know that I am available if you need to talk. This is uncharted territory for all of us, but together we can stay strong and help end this virus. Thank you,

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Love Is Respect

First of all, Happy Valentines Day. As I mentioned in my last post, February is Teen Dating Violence month. I mentioned a lot of statistics about teen dating violence and what to look for. Well I thought today, seeing that it is Valentines Day, I would mention some of the things that teens should be looking for in the other person when they are dating. Some of the positive things that will help build a relationship and things that will make a relationship last. Here is a short list from the Prevention Action Alliance:
  • Treats you with respect
  • Doesn't make fun of things you like or want to do
  • Never puts you down
  • Doesn't get angry if you spend time with your friends or family
  • Listens to your ideas and can compromise with you
  • Isn't excessively negative
  • Shares some of your interests and supports you in pursuing what you love
  • Shares their thoughts and feelings
  • Is comfortable around your friends and family
  • Is proud of your accomplishments and successes
  • Respects your boundaries and doesn't abuse technology to violate your boundaries
  • Doesn't require you to "check in" or need to know where you are all the time
  • Is caring and honest
  • Doesn't pressure you to do things that you don't want to do
  • Doesn't constantly accuse you of cheating or being unfaithful
  • Encourages you to do well in school
  • Doesn't threaten you or make you feel scared
  • Understands the importance of healthy relationships
Finally, remember that healthy relationships are based on respect, communication, trust, honesty and equality. Thanks for reading and have a great Valentines Day.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Teen Dating Violence

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, December 9, 2019

Know The Red Flags of Teen Depression

It’s December; tis the season to be jolly. That’s easier said than done for many people, adults and teens alike. All the hustle and bustle can worsen the symptoms of those who already suffer from anxiety and depression into. And for others, the holidays can create the perfect storm for the onset of symptoms. 

Holiday parties, family gatherings, the overabundance of social media pics and posts, the loss of a loved one, divorce or other family separation, financial concerns, less sleep, indulging in unhealthy foods and drinks, are all contributing factors to people of all ages feeling overwhelmed, anxious and many times, depressed this time of the year. 

For some teens, feeling depressed can cause them to withdraw and avoid social interactions, which oftentimes leads to further sadness and loneliness – a downward spiral that can easily spin out of control. These feelings, which may be more easily managed during other times of the year, may be intensified in the midst of the holiday season.

As parents and other caregivers of young people, it is vital to be aware of the many signs and symptoms of teen depression (according to HelpGuide: Parent’s Guide to Teen Depression):
  • Irritability, anger, or hostility
  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Tearfulness or frequent crying
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Poor school performance
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

When considering the red flags for depression, it is important to know that they may look very different in young people versus adults.

Irritability, anger, or hostility: The predominant mood in a depressed teen is oftentimes irritability, as opposed to sadness. It is common for a depressed youth to be grumpy, hostile, easily frustrated, or prone to angry outbursts.

Unexplained aches and pains: When a physical exam turns up zero answers to your child’s chronic headaches, stomachaches and such, the cause may be due to depression.

Extreme sensitivity to criticism: It is common for young people who are depressed to experience feelings of worthlessness, which makes them even more vulnerable to criticism, rejection, and failure than their teenage peers.

Withdrawing from some, but not all people: Depressed teens typically maintain at least some friendships, while depressed adults tend to isolate themselves. Depressed youth, however, are known to socialize less, pull away from their parents, and start hanging out with a new crowd.

You are now aware of the many potential triggers of teen depression this time of the year. You are also aware of the signs and symptoms to look out for when it comes to youth who are depressed. Now it’s time to start up a conversation with your child, as communication is key.

How you communicate is as important as what you communicate. When talking with your child, focus on listening, not lecturing. Be gentle but persistent, knowing that it can be extremely difficult for a teen to express having feelings of sadness and depression. Acknowledge their feelings, even if it seems silly or irrational to you. In the end, trust your gut. If your child won’t open up to you, but you know there is something more going on, consider reaching out to a school counselor, teacher, or mental health professional. The essential piece is to get them talking. 

Whether you question if there is a potential issue of depression or not, talking regularly with your son or daughter on topics such as this will help to build and foster a strong relationship between the two of you.

Link to original source 

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Media Center Book Fair

Christmas is that time of year when people are looking forward to some time off, gathering with friends and family or just taking it easy over the break. Small children are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus and the stores are jam packed with people looking for a great bargain. Well speaking of great bargains...I want to inform you that the Media Center Book Fair is right around the corner. The book fair will start this Friday, December 6th and run through the 13th of December. This is one event that I look forward to each year. First of all, I love reading. Second, I find it very convenient to choose a few stocking stuffers for my wife and grandchildren.

So, you may be asking yourselves what the Media Center Book Sale actually is. Well each year, Mrs. Knodel will pre-order hundreds of books (there may be close to 1000 books) that she will display in the media center. They will all be laid out on the tables in the media center and organized by different categories. The books are all for sale and they are all brand new. Now here is the good part, all of the books are 30% off and there is no sales tax. Now try to find a better deal than that this year. There will be books for all ages and all interests. There will be magazines and also calendars available.

I hope everyone will take some time and go browse around the book sale. There are so many ideas for great Christmas gifts. Mrs. Knodel does such a wonderful job at putting this on and works hard to get a great variety of books and magazines. As I just walked past the media center, I noticed about 30 big crates loaded with books that will have to be sorted and put out on the tables. That is not an easy task but Mrs. Knodel does it because she also loves reading and knows how much it can help our students. Books are a way to improve your reading skills, allow you to travel to far away places using your imagination or give you the opportunity to experience events that happened long ago. Now if that isn't reason enough to shop the sale, I don't know what is. Thanks Mrs. Knodel for putting this on.