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". 

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Beautiful World

This will be my final blog of the year and so this is the time where I always say my goodbye to the Senior class. This year is obviously different in so many ways from previous years. Just a few months ago we wouldn't have been familiar with the terms, social distancing, Corona virus, flattening the curve or Covid-19. However those terms are more common to us than we wish. The year didn't end the way we all wanted it to end either. We finished the year with Zoom meetings and Google meets rather than greeting each other in the halls and lunchroom. I guess this shows us that life doesn't always go the way we want it to and we really have to learn to adapt and adjust. I really want to thank all the seniors for the way they have adjusted. So many of you jumped into the online learning system and just did a fantastic job and finished strong. I am starting to feel the anticipation of our online awards ceremony on May 22nd at 6:30 via the Vantage YouTube channel. I think the students are really going to enjoy this great tribute to the Class of 2020.

I have a tradition for my final blog and it is repeating the words to one of my favorite songs by Rascal Flatts - My Wish. It's funny but this song was written when most of you were about four years old so you may have to listen to it on YouTube, I think you will enjoy it. The song starts like this:
       "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. Shoot, look at all you went through to finish high school, and you made it. 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.

Well, I will miss all of you and I hope you come back to visit once we get back to normal. Thanks for trusting me with your friendship, your troubles and the last two years of your high school. I know all of you are stronger than you think. Keep your chin up and head high. I thought I would close with some words to a new song I recently heard by Kenny Chesney, "It's a big old beautiful world out there. Sometimes you just gotta let it take you where the roller coaster ride meets the tilt a whirl, It's a big old beautiful world". It certainly is, now go and enjoy it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

One More Day

The words we all heard the other day form the Governor were tough to hear, "School will be closed for the remainder of the year". I think most of us knew that was coming but reality sets in when you hear it officially announced. I keep thinking back to the day, March 13th, when Mr. Turner called us down to the commons to tell us we were closing down for three weeks. That in itself was a shock but didn't really hit home. I left the school with all the material I thought I would need for the next three weeks and cleaned up the office a little bit. I figured that maybe this virus thing is getting serious so we probably should stay away from each other for awhile. I remember driving home and looking at the empty fields and the hope and promise of spring around the corner. I believe even the trees were starting to bud and giving us all hope that warmer weather and nicer days were just around the corner. I started to think about all the things that I have to do at the end of the year that I might have to do from home. I knew I usually start our scheduling about this time. I needed to make sure all the seniors kept up on the scholarship applications, act testing, college applications, etc. I started to get overwhelmed but than I said to myself, it's only three weeks. When I get back to school I will meet with the students and make sure they are aware of all the things seniors do at this "time of year".

This time of year. What an awesome time this usually is for seniors. They are finishing up their final year of school and looking forward to college, going out and making some "real" money or maybe serving our country in the military. I have always enjoyed this time of year. The seniors start to realize that they are finished. I saw many students with tears in their eyes because they were going to miss Vantage, or maybe they were scared about facing the "real world". Either way, they always seem to get closer this time of year. Whether they just want to talk or they want the year to last just a little bit longer, it is an exciting time. It certainly can be a sad time, knowing that I probably won't see many of them anymore. They promise they will be back but they get busy with their careers, away at college and even raising families. I understand that. That is why I enjoy our Open House night. That may be the first time I see a former student since they graduated. It is so great to catch up on what they have been doing and maybe even get to see their new wife or child. So knowing that I may not see the student for awhile or maybe never, the last month has always been a good time to pull up a chair in lab or at the lunch table and have our final goodbyes and laughs. I get to talk to them about their hopes and dreams. To let them know how much they have impacted my life. It is also a time I use to thank them for choosing Vantage and for getting the most out of their time here. I remind them that you are now part of our family.

I won't have that one on one time this year but I can try to do my best on this blog. I realize that with the Governors announcement, it impacted each and everyone of you in different ways. I know your senior year is not "normal". Spring sports are postponed as well as proms. Graduation parties probably will not be happening or at least on a smaller scale. Hopefully every school figures out a way to have a graduation ceremony. However, I still want all of you to know that I am proud of you and your accomplishments. There are so many great students that have accomplished so much in their two years at Vantage. I think of all the awards and certifications in your programs. I think of all the skills that you have learned and the many projects that you have completed in your labs. Continue to work hard the rest of your life and be a leader wherever you go. Take chances and make smart choices. I know that all of you are way too young to remember a song by Diamond Rio, "One more day". I realize the song is about something much deeper than the closing of our schools but there are a few lines in the song that I think have some special meaning as to how I feel right now. They go like this:

Last night I had a crazy dream
A wish was granted just for me
It could be for anything
I didn't ask for money
Or a mansion in Malibu
I simply wished for one more day with you!

I truly wish I had one more day with all of you students. I didn't realize that when you walked out the door on March 13th, that I wouldn't see you again this year. I guess we never know what tomorrow holds. I hope one thing we all learn is that nothing is guaranteed. Take each day with all the gusto you can and treat each other with kindness, compassion and love. Maybe if we are blessed, we will get one more day.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Some Good News

While I was listening to Mr. Knott's morning announcements today, I came up with an idea for today's blog. You may have heard Mr. Knott mention that yesterday he was kind of down in the dumps and just a funky kind of day. A lot had to do with the weather and being stuck inside, but he also mentioned that he was watching too much news and following the Corona crisis on social media. Now, Mr. Knott must not be reading my blog (just kidding) because I have warned all of you about watching the news and how it can bring you down. However, with that being said, I want to point out that there is some news that I hope you would watch. I don't know how many of you are fans of "The Office" sitcom that was on years ago but is still played all the time on reruns. Well John Krasinski (Jim on the show) felt the same way about all the news that is on 24/7 so he decided to come up with "Some Good News" youtube show. He said he had no idea how big this would get. It now has 16 million views. It tells all the good things that people are doing throughout this crisis. It really is heart warming and makes you feel good to watch it. He just finished his third episode this week. I will put the links here and you can watch them at your leisure. They are about 10-15 minutes each but very enjoyable.
Episode #1

Episode #2

Episode #3

I also would like to share something else I came across. As some of you may know, I am a big Mitch Albom fan. Mitch wrote "Tuesdays with Morrie", "The Five People You Meet In Heaven" and several others. Well during this crisis, he is trying something new. He is writing a book in real time. His book is about the Coronavirus crisis and how a small town in Michigan deals with it. The book is fiction but it touches on the very things we are going through today. He is posting the book for free, that's right , no charge. However, he is writing a chapter per week and then releasing it on the internet. Last week was the first chapter. I have already recommended this to several other people and they are hooked. Today he comes out with chapter 2 and I can't wait. The book is titled, "Human Touch". Just visit and start reading today. I know you will enjoy it and find it uplifting.

Well I hope everyone is doing well and staying healthy. A reminder, you can email me anytime you want to talk and I will get back with you as soon as possible. Finally, remember, there is always some good news out there.

Friday, March 27, 2020


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: 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:

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: . 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 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,