Friday, September 25, 2009


I know who I am and who I may be, if I choose.
~Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Homecoming week is always a fun time. I remember looking forward to it when I was in school, and even now, as a teacher, I look forward to a week with a little different atmosphere. We are not that far into the year (well, actually, I guess we are over 1/8th of the way to the end already), but it is already refreshing to have something just a little different to look foward to.

What many of us don't take the time to reflect on is the reason for Homecoming. The tradition was started as a way of welcoming alumni back to visit their school and promote a sense of tradition. This Homecoming, I would challenge you all to spend a few minutes to think about what PHS alumni think when they come back to visit. Are they proud of what they see? What traditions do we emphasize? Are they as important as we make them out to be? Are there traditions we could start while we are here that might be more worthwhile?

I am not asking these questions because I think I know all of the answers. These are not questions for me to answer. These are questions that we must ALL answer, and I think that now is a great time to do it. This is the first Homecoming for PCHS. This is a chance for a new start if we want it. The important thing to remember, though, is that it can't just be the responsibility of a select few. We can't always say "Well, that's the way it has always been, so what can I do about it?" We must ALL continually look at who we are and who we want to be. We are ALL PCHS.

My Rewarding Weekend

There never shall be one lost good. All we have willed or hoped or dreamed of good shall exist.
~Robert Browning

Sometimes I find myself becoming very cynical about the world we are living in. I watch the news and see story after story about things that make me wonder if we are slowly losing our ability to do good for each other. I hear people talking about this generation of students we are educating right now, and they point out what seems to be a decreased level of motivation, empathy, and just about every other positive character trait I can think of. I hear about how their exposure to technology from such a young age has left them unable to make meaningful personal connections, that they would rather text or IM than have a face-to-face conversation. They seem to be short-sighted and in constant search of the instant gratification they have come to expect from a web 2.0 world. I hear all of these things, and I worry. What will my children's generation be if this is the direction we are going?

Here is the "but": But then I have an experience like I did on Saturday. For the second year in a row, I have been asked to provide a security team for the Special Olympics Family Festival at Lake Land College in Mattoon. The event is sponsored and planned by Consolidate Communicatons, which is where I worked while going to college, so I had volunteered before, but I had always just signed up for a job that would allow me to be done within an hour of two of the event starting. For this reason, I never really had a chance to see what a remarkable thing it really is. The last two years, however, have been completely different. I have had the opportunity to be there from the time the first participants show up until the last one leaves, and it completely changes my perspective.

My role as head of security allows me to roam throughout the event and really take in all that is going on. I get to watch as total strangers become "Friends-for-a-Day". I see nursing students spending their Saturday assisting those who need help using the restroom. I see literally thousands of volunteers blocking traffic on Route 45, waiting to find parking on campus so that they can come pitch in doing something, anything. This sight, in and of itself, is impressive, but when I take the time to really pay attention to who these volunteers are, I realize that a vast majority of them, especially the "Friend-for-a-Day" volunteers, are from the generation I was speaking of earlier. I see college students showing up in such amazing numbers that many participants have two "Friends-for-a-Day". I see high school kids showing up wanting to volunteer and being disappointed when they are told they must be eighteen to do so. I see all of this, and I realize that we are going to be okay. The things people worry about in regards to this generation may be true, but somewhere underneath all of those problems, they are still capable and willing to do good. Every new generation has to deal with criticism from those that came before them. We are constantly changing, so each generation is obviously going to be different from the one before. What we have to do is realize that different does not always mean worse.