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Blog #8 Something Greater Than Ourselves

Something Greater Than Ourselves


One of my favorite parts about being principal is the pride I feel as I watch our students play, perform and lead.  I blogged earlier this year about the importance of allowing our students to unleash their creativity, be involved, and find their purpose.  The last few weeks have given me even further insight into why this has brought me so much joy.  These students are experiencing the true fulfillment of what it means to be a part of something that is greater than themselves.  The gifts of team, courage, service, and giving--they are gifts that not only change the individual who takes part--but our entire school community.  Many times these experiences also live forever inside the participants and many times the impact is so great that standing traditions are created.  The culmination of these traditions and the participants who give of themselves over time create what we all aspire to achieve--a legacy that stands the test of time.


While there are so many events I could highlight here, I am going to talk about the three recent ones that spurned for me much reflection and pride:  Dance Marathon, Unified Track, and American Pie.  The circle of lights around our stadium at the end of Dance Marathon, as our students, staff, and Riley families held our candles high while Alabama’s “Angels Among Us” played throughout the stadium will be something I remember always.  To see our students so passionate about making a difference that they would raise over 91,000 dollars even in the midst of a pandemic is nothing short of inspirational.  And as I watched the faces around the circle, I saw the beauty of diversity and the gift of unity join together perfectly.  Students of all backgrounds, ages, and interests left their differences behind and lifted one voice for one cause that evening. 


The first home Unified Track meet was equally inspiring.  As I watched the students step up to the line for their events, knowing that they were conquering fears, becoming vulnerable before the crowd and willing to give it their all--I knew I was watching the definition of true courage.  Yet beyond the courage, I saw the handshakes and heard the cheers from the crowd--from parents, from peers, and even from the opposing team.  Then came the big smiles on the faces of the students who had overcome and tasted victory.  It made me wonder what life would be like if we embraced vulnerability, conquered our deepest fears of failure, and would be willing to encourage anyone in our path--no matter how different they are from us.  What kind of world would that be?


On Friday, I stood up in the balcony with my two young daughters as we sang, danced, marveled, and fully experienced the magic of American Pie.  It is hard to believe that this was the ninth show.  From the year of its creation up until this year, it has always been an event that epitomizes the heart and soul of WHS.  Not only is it a blend of music and passion and the result of cross-collaborative, creative efforts of our staff originators, but it also showcases a stage full of students from every walk of life, of every interest, of every age--brought together to entertain, to teach, to move us.  The theme this year was so fitting:  “All You Need is Love.”  In a year where so much has been uncertain and our society has felt more divided than ever, we could walk away from the show focused on what connects us and what matters most.


The beauty of our WHS culture is that new traditions and legacies are born each year in the hearts and minds of our students and staff.  What collaborative creation will surface next year to bring us together?  What team will taste victory?  What individual will overcome their insecurities and share their voice in the spotlight?  As we close out this year, so many voices have inspired, so many faces have brought joy.  I smile to think what next year might hold.  I am excited knowing more will understand what it means to be a part of something much, much bigger than what we could accomplish on our own.  Because true life change comes when we are a part of something greater than ourselves.