Sunday, September 25, 2016

Back In Garrett

As in the past few years, I went back home to Garrett to attend the Hall of Honor ceremony and to do a few study skill sessions for the high school students. And each year, I am more and more impressed with my hometown! This year, as before, the kids were engaged and respectful during a rigorous two and a half hour presentation, despite the fact that we added even younger students to the mix. We had fun and I teased them a great deal. A few teachers sat in and were very helpful. Mr. Smith, the principal, was involved as always and treated me to lunch. I did two presentations and was pretty whipped afterwards. The students asked good questions, and I have heard back from several of them already. Friday night, I went to the game and watched the new crop of honorees get inducted to the Hall of Honor. You can see them here:

 As always, I am humbled by the company I keep in that select group of individuals. The accomplishments of the other inductees is mind-blowing! Sometimes I believe I have been included simply because most folks don't understand what I really do (Sindi believed I was a secret agent most of her life). Anyway, as I have said countless of times, whatever good is inside me, I found it in that little Indiana town forty something years ago. Here are a few things I would remind the good folks of Garret about their community:

  1. Their high school has a very good principal at its helm - Mr. Smith is a passionate and caring man. We spend time together each year and he shares his philosophy of education with me. I have worked with educators all over the world; few of them as humble and dedicated as he.
  2. The school has great teachers - I have met many of them in the past five years, including Mrs. Furnish and Mr. Claxton who attended this years workshops. They are kind and patient, and I see the evidence in their interaction with the kids.
  3. Garrett raises good kids - I know schools face all kinds of challenges today related to state standards, funding, and mandated assessments. I am not sure where the school lands on such external measuring sticks, but I do know that I worked with 100 high schools students (freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors) who were far better behaved, attentive, and engaged than most college freshmen I work with. This kind of thing doesn't make its way back to any state capital, but might be the most important work we do. They tolerated the boring bits of my presentation, answered my questions, and eagerly participated at any chance I gave them. I told them, as I would their parents and families, that I do not go to other high schools to do these presentations anymore because I am tired of donating my time to often bored, unruly, and disrespectful students. I will always come back to Garrett when Mr. Smith calls.
  4. I am proud of my old friends who are an integral part of the school and community. While at the school, I met old friends who worked there (John and Gene) and saw many familiar faces in the Friday night crowd - both in the stands and along the sideline fence. They go to the games and support their kids, families, and friends. I smile each time I think of Larry as a member of the school board now, having known him then :)  His enduring passion for the school is a standard I could never meet. My friends, the Bartels family, remain at the center of it all, and catch me up on all the news of the place each time I visit. I have never been anywhere too long, so I marvel at their sense of loyalty and devotion to the community, and their complete integration into its sinews. The town owes much to them, and they to it.
  5. I was adopted twice in my life - once by my stepfather and once by the town. The latter saved me from the former, truly "in loco parentis"
  6. Finally, even though I only spent a few years of my life there (the students and I did the math to find out it was a little less than 4% of my time on earth), Garrett is my hometown and still the foundation of decency and human service that still grows in my heart. I truly hope that all those who stayed so close and never stepped away can see it as I do.
In another year, Inshalah, I will go back and work with a new group of students, catch up with old friends, and watch a handful of Garrett's best come home for an embrace that is too important to describe in a blog like this. I am blessed.

BTW - I was over the moon to receive a Garrett Jersey this year. It wasn't my original jersey number, but my graduating year. It is hanging in my office :)

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Deck Project Continues

I have been working on a friends deck off and on for a few weeks now. My last post documented the restoration of the deck and the construction of antique door/outdoor coffee table. This week, we built four planter boxes, two with plant pot inserts and two with slate tops. In between the two slate planters, we built a bench. Next up, we will make the last benches that tie all four boxes together. Today was Labor Day and we celebrated by having a party for some folks at work. It was a very nice afternoon with good friends and food. There were several kids having fun and I Just sort of sat in the shade and ate after 26 hours of work over the weekend. I am happy with it all so far, and hope to finish the last benches in a few weeks :)

We will take a short break and pick it back up in two weeks, Inshalah. For now, a nice long nap.......