In search of some MWHS Pride? Look no further than the 2013 9th Grade Respect Retreat. I was lucky enough to be one of the advisors at the retreat today, and it was an outstanding experience. I have taught at MWHS for 14 years, and I have attended my fair share of Respect Retreats. They are always a positive experience, but as an advisor, that experience can sometimes be clouded by some challenging moments. In the past, these moments have consisted of leaders who struggle, 9th graders who don't feel like participating, etc. What were my challenges as an advisor this year? None. Not one. I got to spend the day watching our 9th graders and our leaders, and counting all of the times I felt White Hawk Pride.
I felt pride when the coordinators of the day, who come from Youth Frontiers, trained our senior leaders first thing in the morning. After about a half hour of training them, one of the Youth Frontiers leaders came over to me and said, "That was the easiest time I've ever had training a group of seniors. I got about halfway through my training and realized that these guys already knew what to do." I wasn't surprised by this - our senior Link Crew Leaders are an AMAZING group of leaders. I am so proud to be one of their advisors, and I feel so blessed that we get to have this group of seniors lead our school all year.
I felt pride when the 9th graders entered the Pond Arena to start off the day. I didn't notice any stragglers; I didn't notice anyone being negative. And they stayed this way ALL day. They participated in every activity, and they did it with a positive attitude. There were many ways in which the idea of respect was discussed throughout the day...and I think our 9th graders actually GOT it.
I felt pride near the end of the day when the leaders and 9th graders participated in the "campfire." It quickly became apparent that there were some respect issues going on in the 9th grade class that needed to be addressed. I was amazed at some of the maturity I saw coming from those students who bravely entered the center of the circle and made some pretty profound statements. I truly believe that things might just change for the better with this group of 9th graders going forward.
I felt a sense of personal pride when one of the 9th graders made a reference at the campfire to a discussion we had a few weeks ago in my English class. We had just read a book about a boy with Autism. Our discussion had been about the fact that none of us are really that different from each other - we can all find SOME way to identify with every person we meet. This 9th grader reminded us all of this idea...like I said before, I think our 9th graders actually internalized this whole idea of what it means to respect one another.
I felt pride as I saw some of our senior leaders get up and move across the circle during the campfire...just to give a pat on the back to a few of the brave 9th graders who had gotten up and said something that took a lot of courage to say. That was true leadership - it was amazing to watch.
I felt pride as I handed out buttons that say RESPECT to each of the 9th graders as they boarded the bus at the end of the retreat. They all seemed excited about these buttons. Sure, everyone likes to get free stuff, but I think it was more than that. I think they are excited about the idea of coming together as a class and moving through their next four years at MWHS with a little more unity and a lot more respect.
There are so many reasons I am proud to be a White Hawk. Today reminded me of many of those reasons. Thank you to our 9th graders, and thank you to our senior leaders. I'm so lucky to get to work with all of you. #MWHS Pride
Freshmen and Seniors at the Respect Retreat