The end of the year is always a struggle for me.  Some of you know that I am tender hearted.  I am terrible with goodbyes and April starts the goodbye season.  Saying farewell to the senior Camp Tecumseh counselors starts the season.Tecumseh - Chasing Balloons - 2019 - Session 1  The dreaded senior goodbyes happen before breakfast on the last day of each Tecumseh session.  We try to tell these kids how much they mean to us and thank them for all they have done to maintain all the Camp Tecumseh traditions. Most of these seniors have been connected with us for six years.  We have watched them grow.  This year was really rough (I know that I have said this more than once, but this class is on par with the class of 2007 for me) as the senior class was largely consolidatedSession 2 Senior Picture in Fireplace Room into Session 2 and contained a lot of kids that mean so much to me; including a lot of my very first class of Weoples.  The first session included both my students of the year and even one who was my student of the year in both 7th and 8th grade.  Spending six school years with kids strengthens bonds and embeds these kids into your life.  There is a sense of pride of watching these kids grow into young adults with the whole world of possibilities open to them.

This class also included my and Sturgeon’s cadet teachers that enriched our year so much.  Jenna is destined to be a teacher; when she asked to be my cadet I asked her if she would be willing to join the FHS We the People team so that she could work with my Weoples during BEST.   She persevered in the performance arts until she got a chance to shine on stage in her senior year and shine she did…I could not be prouder of her.  Go to the bottom of the page for a special treat.

Now my Weoples. 

Center - Hi Res Image - FJH Runner Up - 1

We the People Invitational 2019

Describing my year with them is hard; they work, they care, they dance on a moment’s notice, their love of life and learning is hard to equal.  The season ended too soon for me and, maybe for some, short of the goal.  First, winning Nationals is hard; it is hard to get past Mike Potts’ Brown County team, it is hard to raise the money to go to Nationals, and it is hard to get past the teams at Nationals.  Second, my goal is never only been about the competition.  My goal is bigger.  After 5 years my Weoples number is 157.  One hundred and fifty seven civic-minded students that are ready to lead.  I see the evidence every week.  On last Friday’s Day of Service the end of day speakers were from Fisher High School’s20190510_134119 Students in Action group made up of three of my former Weoples from the first National Championship team.  At the recent school board meetings about the school district’s anti-discrimination language four of the 40 community speakers were former Weoples; two of mine and two that I worked with on Janet Chandler’s team.  It did not go unnoticed at last week’s National Junior Honor Society Induction that all six retiring officers were members of this year’s team.  The satisfaction of knowing that there is a program out there preparing students to lead a world so desperate for true leadership; NJHS Officers - Weoplesso desperate for civic virtue gives me such hope.

Now considering that my previous two teams were National Champions, this was the best team I have ever taken to Nationals.  They were deep and their teachers were better because of another year of experience.   At Nationals they were, in short, stunning.  Each day they seemed to perform better than the last.  At the Awards Ceremony they fell short and were crowned Runners-Up.  The kids were disappointed to finish second, but Sturgeon, Stumpf, and I were not; for they had done everything that we asked and so much more.  We fell short, but not because of some failing; we fell short because someone did better.

Their story was not written in the loss, but was written in what they did with the defeat.  William Ellery Channing once wrote, “May your life preach more loudly than your lips.”  On all our teams we have always preached to the kids to guard our team and school’s reputation; as a result, we don’t leave messes behind, we straighten out rooms, pick up trash, we stack plates at restaurants, and so on.  During competition, we thank all who serve, we are polite with other teams, and show manners even when others are not.  Our biggest traditions revolve around showing grace in victory and defeat.  In victory, we never do anything that could be construed by another team of taunting; there is no jumping up and down, dabbing, screaming or anything remotely that demonstrative.  At the awards ceremony, when the 2nd place team is announced it is obvious who the 1st place team is due to the final Top 3 round.  In victory we give the second-place team their time on stage, we clap for them and do not celebrate early.  Most importantly before every awards ceremony we talk about showing sportsmanship and grace in victory and defeat.

When we finished second we went to stage with heads held high, with some teary eyes, and received our trophy; trying hard to not show our disappointment.

Forever etched in my mind is what happened when the other team was announced as the first place team.  My Weoples rose immediately and gave the winning team a standing ovation and they clapped for their entire time on stage.  We quickly left to go to the lobby so that they could have the stage for themselves and their families, but our bus was delayed so we were in the lobby when Miami Lakes came out.  On their own the kids went over and congratulated their counterparts, soon they broke into units and started Two teams togethertalking “shop”; suddenly selfies were being taken and social media addresses exchanged.  Amazingly, the kids came over and asked if they could take a team picture with them.  Stunning sportsmanship.  Stunning grace.  They could teach the world about what sportsmanship should look like in the moment.  I have never been more proud of any team that I have coached. I received emails from the leadership of the Center for Civic Education and WorldStrides director about our kids sportsmanship and class.

20190505_084812My only regret on the trip was a bit of shenanigans involving once again my face.  I wonder what it would take to copyright my face to keep “the boys” from further exploits. Speaking of “the boys” our success over the past years has been a reflection of the work of Kevin Stumpf and Tony Sturgeon.  Kevin has become the logistics engineer of our trip.  He coordinates out entire trip and is really Einstein Statue with the Boys - May 2018good at it.  Tony has stepped up to become the Weople English teacher and works We the People into his curriculum.  I cannot thank them enough for all their support.

When the Nationals scores arrived my impressions about the team held true.  Each unit can receive up to 180 points per round and with six units there is the possibility of 1080 points per day.   Each unit finished first on, at least, one of the three rounds.  Two units finished first each day.  We won the first day by 23 points, lost the second day by 30 points, and lost the last day by 20 points (the last day counts double).  So in the end we they scored 3907 points and we scored 3860 out of a possible 4320 points; 47 points.  We saw 54 judges over 3 days; less than a half-a-point difference per judge.

Lastly just to prove my Weoples love of dance:

What comes next.

We have picked the team for next year; which is difficult to do on many levels.  I am not ready to replace this team that means so much to me; it is a harsh reminder of how fleeting a school year can seem.  The other part of picking a new team is that you end up disappointing the kids that apply that don’t get selected.  I hurt for the kids that do not get picked.  It impacts relationships and there is not a way to avoid the feeling.  Next year’s team has 26 brand-new Weoples.  Sturgeon, Stumpf and I are working on how to improve.

On a personal note.

20190504_115314The next couple years will be one of change and transition.  Ally and Matt (future son-in-law #1) graduated from Ball State on May 4th.  They get married in a couple of weeks on June 1st and then Ally will start her management program with Kohl’s on June 10th.  Matt is in limbo until Ally gets her store assignment (hopefully in the Indianapolis area), but hopefully in will be able to get into a finance position with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service in the system he worked with while in the Marines.

Caitlin and Lucas are now engaged!!  10-10-2020!  Lucas (now referred to as future son-IMG1563274377024104658in-law #2) likes numbers.  They are building a house in Whitestown which is a much easier drive for Caitlin to get to Riley Children’s Hospital.  The house will provide me with lots of chances to putter around their house.  I already have a Daddy Do list.  We cannot be happier for the both of them.

The fact that Lucas is a giant Green Bay Packers fan and Matt is a huge Chicago Bears fan should make for great Sundays in the years to come.  We have already watched a couple games together and the games can be a BIT intense, but it is not my team soooo it makes for great viewing.

Laurel and I are feeling the transitions.  Our kids are now grown and in two weeks they will be completely on their own.  We are two for two on college graduations.  We are two for two on our girls finding someone that loves them and that we love.  We are ready for next phase.  My plan is to retire in May 2021.   That year we turn 63 years old and that seems like a good age to start our next phase.  Hopefully that phase will include grandchildren where my goal is to be a “pixie sticks and puppies” grandpa!!!  Hey, it is not my job to put them to bed.

My Cadet Teacher Performs in Bring It On in the FHS Spring Musical: