Saturday, September 28, 2013

Day 19 - Benefit For One Of Our Own

Today's post is from Crystal Gravelle, a math paraprofessional and NHS advisor at MWHS

What is MWHS Pride?!

Cheers, “Ms. Gravelle, Ms. Gravelle, Ms. Gravelle” ringing out from the stands. Tell me how this doesn’t SHOUT MWHS Pride!

I’m so humbled to be able to write today to share my deepest appreciation for the students, staff, and our community as a whole for being part of such a meaningful night last night. I never imagined I would ever hear the words, “you have cancer” only to find out a few days later it was Stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Since my diagnosis in mid-July, I have felt tremendously uplifted and supported not only by the MWHS administration, my colleagues and friends but also by the students and community as a whole! So much of my strength during this battle has come from being able to maintain as close to a “normal” life as possible. Being able to walk through the doors at MWHS and be surrounded by caring and compassionate students and staff has made a great difference.

It’s not easy to walk into a night that’s all about you but last night there was a peace about it. A peace knowing that everyone in the gym was standing beside me, next to me, rallying me on this journey.

Through this battle, I’ve seen so much greatness! Our students and staff genuinely care! Our community, once again, has stepped in and made a tremendous difference with their outpouring of support and generous donations! Having grown up in this community, I’m not surprised by the outpouring of support. I only hope to have the opportunity to give back!

It’s hard to put into words today how truly grateful I am….It’s an easier fight with this army behind me! Thanks for being you Mound Westonka and thanks for being GREAT!

Proud to be a White Hawk!
Ms. Gravelle and her family

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Day 18 - R-E-S-P-E-C-T...Find Out What it Means at MWHS!

Today's post is from Molly Carlson, English Teacher, Dance Coach and Link Crew Advisor

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 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

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Day 17 - White Hawk Nation

Today's post is from Brock Locker, a junior at MWHS

This is the White Hawk Nation.  We are united.  Our school is a place to prosper academically and athletically.  We congratulate each other on great grades and new times made.  We take pride in what we do and who we are. But we wouldn't be this great school if it weren't for the community that supports our fantastic students and athletes.

Even if we win, lose or draw our community is behind us pushing us forward to achieve bigger and better.  We may be a small school, but we have big opportunities that can create individual students! We create our students, we create our successes, and we create who we are today, tomorrow and in the future.

Adam & Brock

Editor's note: Brock is a student in the MWHS Wake Up Westonka Announcements class. Please watch his fantastic football video that he created for this class! #MWHSPride

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Day 16 - Reflections from a School Board Member

Today's post is from Ann Bremer, Westonka School Board Vice Chair and parent of two MWHS grads

Every day as a Westonka School board member, I am incredibly proud to serve this great district. I do not have to stretch for one minute to find a story or an example of how easy it is to brag about our great kids and our great staff.  Yes, I could fill this blog about stories of “best in the state” test scores, awards and achievements from the arts to athletics, our school district’s financial turnaround (although still a struggle), the support from our community members who understand the importance of public schools, and my admiration for those truly unique staff members who understand how important their role is in engaging kids to learn and to strive to learn more.

But this is where my pride in Westonka comes from:  my own daughter’s struggle with a learning disability that required her to receive Special Education services for most of her elementary and middle school years.  Her teacher’s and paraprofessionals believed in her, and did not treat her like someone who just had to “get by”. She graduated from High School,was accepted to the University of Minnesota, graduated in 4 years (on the Dean’s List twice!)—and is now working at Hazelton Foundation. Could that have happened at any school district in this state? I hope so—but it happened right here at MWHS.  It’s my number one reason for running—I want to preserve that same dedication that was shown to my daughter by this staff.  I want that for all kids!

I have served on this school board for 10 years and each time I have run—my inspiration has always been my deep commitment to our kids and my passion for public education.  I will fight every day to give you the tools you need to be the best students and to achieve all of those dreams you want for yourself. I will put this student body and what you do every day to learn and to realize what is truly important in your education up against any student body in this state—and you will shine.  Be proud of being a White Hawk—I am incredibly proud to serve you!

Paige, Ann and Molly

Monday, September 23, 2013

Day 15 - Proud to Sing in the MWHS Choir

Today's post is by Rachel Andres, a senior and proud MWHS Concert Choir member

The thing that makes me the most proud to be a part of Mound Westonka High School is being involved in the choir program. I am a soprano in Concert Choir, one of the three choirs we have here at MWHS.

This is my second year in Concert Choir and before that I was in Varsity Choir and before that, the White Hawk Choir. Over the years I have made new friends who enjoy singing like I do. Together we have learned a lot of great music and performed it to many appreciative audiences.

One of the many highlights was last year when we went on tour to New Orleans. We performed on the streets to a completely new audience and saw many other performers, too. We got to experience the culture in a Cajun restaurant and an evening trip on a jazz cruise ship.  We also got to meet kids with a love of music just like us at the exchange concert at a local high school.

Something to get excited for this year is getting accepted to perform at the American Choral Directors Association.  I am proud to be a part of such a great program, and I would like to give a special thanks to our director Kate Larson for being such a dedicated teacher and making all of it possible.

Chloe, Liz, Rachel, Bobbi and Coco