Blue was an integral color in the tri-color blend of Patriotic pride for students this past Friday. Freshmen, you attended and survived your first Pace High School pep rally. Above the relentless chanting of "four more years," you held your own and made your presence known.
I want you to know you made your presence known in my classroom as well. Many of you are starting to come out of your shells and were very candid in your "Letter to Mrs. Bell," about your goals for the year and plans for the future. A running theme in these letters was the idea that many of you want to challenge yourselves to get involved and not be so shy. I also discovered that many of you want to go into the medical field, which excites me. I feel so honored to play a role in laying the foundation of what will likely become a beautiful, beautiful structure for so many of you.
If you recall, this week we read our first short story together. "Marigolds," tells the story of a fourteen year old girl, Lisabeth, growing up in poverty. Because of the hopelessness of her poverty, she goes out in the middle of the night and destroys Ms. Lottie's beautiful "Marigolds" in a raging fit. Afterwards, she sees the destruction she has caused and feels tremendous regret, remorse, and shame. We talked extensively about the marigolds being a symbol of hope, a thing of beauty in an otherwise dark place. When I read each of your dreams about the future, I realize you, too, have planted marigolds. I have as well. You guys, cliché as it may sound, are my marigolds. The thing I tend to and cultivate daily. The thing that brings meaning and beauty to my life. I am so proud of who you are and who you will become.
In addition to the short story, this week we took a day to discuss the importance of reading. I taped four $20 bills to the dry erase board and hid it behind the screen. Then, I asked each of you why you thought I had the money taped to the board. The most impressive response throughout the day was by a young lady who said, "I think you taped the money there because it was there when we walked in, but we didn't know it because the screen was covering it up. Books are a lot like that. There is a treasure lying in wait, but you have to open the cover to see it." I was blown away by this response and wished it had been the real reason I had put the money there. The real reason was a little different. As I explained, I wanted each of you to see that money is not something I would have to coerce you into taking, but the gift of reading was far more valuable than a pitiful $100. I challenged each of you to read 20 minutes per night, which I hope you are doing, and I tried to inspire you to read more this year than you ever have because I know it is the game changer when it comes to student success.
We ended the week by reading "Welcome to Florida Town," by Sean Deitrich. A columnist for the Tallahassee Democrat and a popular local blogger, he writes about the simplicity of the South. This week's article was about our school, Pace High School. He described the plain looking building with Old Glory flying outside of it. At the end, he paid tribute to the Patriots. I hope you all are beginning to see how you fit into the fabric of this most magnificent flag of our school. You make the place unique, and you make it home. Thank you for choosing to be a Patriot this year.
Keep pressing on,