Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Service, Regardless

These are a few thoughts I shared at this year's JROTC Awards Assembly.

The mission of Ellison High School is to launch young people into successful adult lives of learning, service, and meaningful work.

I love that simple statement and all it encompasses, but I want to focus just on the element of service: What separates the most genuine, effective service from just another project, gift, or collection drive? The difference lies in the way service is framed in your mind, and your approach to those you serve.

The idea of Service, Regardless is conveyed in four points:

*Service Regardless of whether you know the person or people in need: Are you willing to cross that line and reach out to people you don't know (or perhaps don't fully trust yet) to help with a need you have the ability to meet?

*Service Regardless of whether you feel the person in need is deserving of your help: Are you willing to help people only as long as they meet with your approval? Can you extend service regardless of whether you feel someone deserves it?

*Service Regardless of whether the person in need can ever repay your help: Is there really anything special about giving time/help to someone, knowing the favor will be repaid? Doesn't everyone do that? The most enduring reward comes from service to those with no way to ever repay your effort.

*Service Regardless of whether anyone knows the help came from you, or whether you ever receive credit: It's certainly nice to be recognized, but are you willing to help others when no one knows you were even involved? Do you feel satisfaction at knowing a need was met, even if you remain anonymous?

Eagles, let me encourage you to begin right now living out the vision of service in your community, and as you do, remember the idea of Service, Regardless.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Our Counselors

Did you know this is National School Counseling Week?

What a joy to celebrate the wonderful Eagles who serve us in the role of School Counselor. We could not fulfill our mission without these dedicated educators:

*Milton Amundson
*Heather Bisson
*Juli Fischer
*Crystal Morris
*Sarah Noteboom
*Amy Picot
*Valerie Sather (Registrar)
*TyAnna Virdell

Our Counselors work directly with our students, our staff, and our students' families on a daily basis, celebrating the joys, working through the sorrows, and making sure our Eagles are on the right track for graduation. Countless students have turned to our Counselors for support in difficult times and through difficult decisions, and have found in our Guidance Office a caring, knowledgeable, and trustworthy guide.

We salute our Counselors this week, and we appreciate them every day.

Learn more about National School Counseling Week here.

Go Counselors!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Social Media & MLK

With a few quiet moments to reflect today, I am drawn to several recordings of Dr. Martin Luther King's speeches and sermons on Spotify.

In one speech, he makes a statement that sounds far more prophetic today, in the world of social media, than anyone could have imagined at the time Dr. King was speaking. Dr. King was talking about scientific advances that have enabled speedy travel throughout the world, and said this:

"Through our scientific genius, we've made of the world a neighborhood. And now, through our moral and ethic commitment, we must make of it a brotherhood. We must all learn to live together as brothers, or we will all perish together as fools."

Not even Dr. King could have imagined that our world-turned-neighborhood would someday empower us with the ability to send messages anywhere in the world, in an instant, to post opinions of others for all to see, and to create strong responses in real people with a click requiring little thought.

How are we using this power?

Certainly many people use their social media reach for good purposes. But how many use it for harm? Or use it without thought to the impact it can make?

Dr. King's message is just as true today: Our world-turned-electronic-neighborhood must now become a brotherhood, or we will fail.

I urge you to make a commitment to promote Dr. King's vision through your use of social media:

*Become an informed citizen.

*Be a peacemaker.

*Be an encouragement to others.

*Be a voice for the vulnerable and powerless.

*Celebrate the positive.

*Stand up for what is good and right.

*Make sure every post is something you would want an employer to see before a job interview.

I often comment that it will be interesting, in 20-30 years, to live in a world led by people who have had social media accounts since they were in middle school and high school. One of those leaders, in some form or fashion, will be you.

Use your social media influence to fulfill Dr. King's vision of a world-turned-neighborhood that grows into a family.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Life After High School


End-of-Spring-Break Greetings to you!


That's the number of class periods left in the 14-15 school year, after accounting for our Final Exam schedule in June. Can you believe it? More important than that, what will you do with that time? Will you prove the time is valuable to you?

I would like to share with you something I read today that reminded me of our mission here at EHS, to "launch young people into successful adult lives of learning, service, and meaningful work". NBA great Steve Nash just announced his retirement from professional basketball, and published a letter to fans on The Players' Tribune. You don't have to read the entire letter to get what I wanted to share with you. Toward the end of his letter, Nash says:

This letter is for anyone who’s taken note of my career. At the heart of this letter, I’m speaking to kids everywhere who have no idea what the future holds or how to take charge of their place in it. When I think of my career, I can’t help but think of the kid with his ball, falling in love. That’s still what I identify with and did so throughout my entire story.

This idea, that young people deserve every opportunity to dream about their future, and work to make their future what they want it to be, is at the heart of our mission at EHS, and drives me personally every day. This is why the Eagle staff is here, because we believe you, our students, have a bright future after high school, and we want to play a part in making that future a reality. Like Nash says, you have no idea right now what your future holds, but dream big, work hard, and be kind to others. You can't go wrong that way.

355 -- The Home Stretch

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Welcome to 2015!

Eagle Family,

I hope you have enjoyed Christmas Break, and I hope your New Year celebration was exciting and rewarding for you. It's good to reflect at this time of year, and give some thought to the things to leave behind in the old year, and what to seek in the new year.

I hope these items will be listed among your goals for 2015:

*Service: How are you working to make the lives of other people better?

*Positive friendships: Are the people you associate with helping you accomplish good things?

*Academic success: Have you reached the limit of your learning potential? (Hint: None of us has!)

*Connectedness: Are you involved in something positive at EHS outside of class?

*Vision: What is your next step after high school is over? Are you preparing yourself for that next step?

Remember our mission at EHS: To launch young people into successful adult lives of learning, service, and meaningful work. How appropriate at New Year's to remember that everything we're doing is about the future, which I'm convinced is bright.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Eagle Family,

All the best to you at this festive time of year!

I wanted to take a moment and express my gratitude to all of you for all you do to make Ellison High School a special place. We are tremendously blessed to call EHS home, and it is my sincere hope that every one of you, students and staff alike, find encouragement here to be your best and reach your highest potential.

Enjoy these three days off of school, and remember:

*Treasure these times with your loved ones.

*Eat well.

*Get some much-needed rest.

*Be safe. Make sure your family knows where you are at all times.

*Plan to make the most of the 105 class periods you have left before Christmas break. (Even fewer if you are testing the first week of December!)

Thank you for being an Ellison Eagle. You inspire me, and you confirm my faith in a bright future for our community and our nation.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Free Lunch from Mr. D!


Have you ever thought about whether it's better to record a moment or just experience it? This article presents that very question. I would love to get your take on this question, from the perspective of a high school student.

Also, I will pick up and bring back lunch from the local restaurant of choice for the first three students who can identify for me where the author's phrase "thousand-points-of-smartphone-light" is borrowed from. Hint:  It is borrowed from a U.S. presidential candidate, during a presidential election year.

If you know or can find the answer, send it to me in an e-mail:

Live the moment!