Greetings from Winfield City Schools,

This will be a bit of a long read, and I hope you will stay with it.  Did you know you have an appointment in about six weeks?  This is one of the questions that seniors are asked near the end of school.  It is almost always followed with a look of surprise or a repeat of the word, appointment? But I digress. For the last two years, I have given each senior a sheet to fill out on the first day of their senior year.  It asks several questions, some which include: What’s the plan after graduation, who was the person(s) who helped you get where you are today, what is your most memorable moment at Winfield City Schools, so far, and take a moment and think about it, what do you hope to accomplish during your senior year? 

They fill these out in August, and I visit each one of them in the second semester to see if everything is on schedule or if anything has changed.  As you might imagine, there are many changes in the responses, especially with those I speak to with about six weeks left in school.  It is a nostalgic tour for me because, as you might know also, with most, I was their Principal in elementary school.  As I post this, I still lack three seniors from completion of this year’s graduates. 

This is a snapshot of the second visit when we go back over the questions.  Good morning!  Do you remember this?  They look puzzled at first, read a bit, and go oh yes, I do remember this.  I respond and say, let’s see if anything has changed.  They almost immediately begin shaking their heads and say that much has changed.  Occasionally, I will have one or two who have stayed the course, but they are the exception not the rule.  We go through the gambit of questions again, but I do center the focus on certain aspects of the conversation.  For example, when we get to the person(s) most influential in your life, I will tell them this gets a little sappy and sentimental, but I want you to know something.  When you are the lowest dirty skunk you can ever be, (he, she, they or whatever person listed) will love you unconditionally, and when you are at the pinnacle of success, they will also love you unconditionally.  I also point out that I was a product of a divorced family, and my response when I was a senior would have been only one of my parents.  However, in an effort to give hope (and it is truth), I point out that I did have a relationship with my other parent once I became an adult, and the other parent was the one that sought me out.

The memorable moments are always fun.  You can see big smiles, laughter, and a longing for a simpler time.  For most, this does not change because it has been embedded in their hearts for some time.  There are occasions when there are a few tears on the influential person or the memorable moments.  I was taken aback the first time this happened, and I must admit had tears of my own.  It alarms me each time it happens, but the students must see it in my eyes and tell me its ok, this is a good memory. 

As they unfold their future plans, I am amazed and wonder about the many things they will see and do in the future.  This is when I ask them if they know they have an appointment.  I open my calendar and say, this is April and flip the page to May and point to the nineteenth where it is written in my calendar that this day is graduation.  This look is so special because they smile and go oh yea.  Then the look changes and they go, wow that was quick.  I’ve set them up for the hook.  This is when I tell them that the person(s) who have helped them and the answers to the other questions have assured me that they are ready to succeed in life. 

The final question I ask is directed to them with the same candor.  “Don’t tell me what I want to hear, tell me the truth.”  Do you think your time in Winfield City Schools has prepared you for, and I point to what they said they hope to accomplish in life.  It truly fills my heart to say that the response is always positive.  They do share on things we can improve on, and I do make a point of passing this along.  Each senior gets a silicone wristband that has, Winfield Pirates on one side and No Grit No Pearl on the other side.  This is a simple explanation.  You will work for anything you get in life. 

So let me conclude (this is especially for the senior parents) with the simple question.  Do you know you have an appointment?  It is also for the other parents that will one day have their young ladies and young men reach this rite of passage.  Let’s work together to make sure that they are most prepared for this appointment.