We welcome guest columnist Michael D. Wilson, Upshur County Teacher of the Year. Mr. Wilson is a mathematics teacher at Buckhannon-Upshur High School as well as Student Council Adviser and Senior Class Adviser.
BUILDING OPPORTUNITIES THROUGH CHALLENGES
Challenges build opportunities to grow personally, to mature our educational values and impact future decisions. The years of 2020 and 2021 afforded us the opportunity of creating, stretching our thinking and building avenues of growth outside “the box.” Remote learning paved the need of developing learning experiences with new technology, to pioneer ventures of new horizons for understanding the future, and scoping ways that would impact the learning path for both student and teacher.
The means of a graduation for the Class of 2020 was important, placing the focus to be one that was a memorable ceremony that would be valued for each graduate and his or her family. I went to the seniors to get their thoughts on the best direction.
The senior members of the Buckhannon-Upshur High School Student Council came together one day in the school parking lot, forming a doughnut with their cars, and sitting on blankets in front of their cars. We began brainstorming ideas to develop a course of action to make this happen. Ideas from this group were formatted in a survey and sent out to the seniors to vote for the type of graduation ceremony each would willingly participate in. Out of this group one thing that kept surfacing was, “Please promise us that we will have a graduation as close to being normal and valued.”
The two main options selected were a photo op in the auditorium of the school or graduation at Freal “Red” Crites Memorial Stadium at a later date. The challenges continued to mount. It was decided that those who would like to do the photo op and graduate in a ceremony held in the school auditorium would have that fulfilled because of career goals and pressing timelines, whether it be employment, military or early career training. The other graduates’ plan was to graduate at the stadium.
The photo op was scheduled for 135 seniors by an appointment from 9:00 AM until 6:00 PM, May 20, 2020, in the high school auditorium along with family members. This plan involved having everyone present wear masks, use social distancing guidelines, and keep safety as a priority for families, faculty and staff. The safety features were used by all for both the photo op and the graduation ceremony held June 26, 2020. The guidelines were approved by the Upshur County Health Department.
Looking towards the challenges the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021 faced had redirected our attention to view the world differently. Life has presented opportunities challenging each of us to grow. Both groups of young people grew and discovered ways to master the events that life delved, stretching their thinking to see life differently and to embark upon new voyages and new challenges.
Entering the halls of Buckhannon-Upshur High School as a freshman presented its challenges of new beginnings. Within this scope of challenges, many events not anticipated, and ones that possibly could influence which pathway to choose, also presents ones that could develop new opportunities. The adventures as high school students could forge endless possibilities.
We can never prepare our students to know everything that each one may face, but we can help them grow, mature, and guide them to make right choices about their future. The opportunity as educators has been placed in us as customary measures of influence to further strengthen growth as individuals.
Both groups of graduates faced similar, but different challenges. Each grew and met the challenges within his or her perspective years.
Faith challenges us to realize that whatever may be our vision, the path does not have to be alone. Each day provides unknown territory not always visualized, or a journey not always anticipated, but faith demonstrated allows us to not travel alone, but to travel with the guidance of God and others.
This community came together for the Classes of 2020 and 2021, assisting our young people to meet the challenges and not giving in to defeat, but embracing the opportunities, discovering the new avenues which allowed each event. Fear and defeat do not bring results. They grip each one forming a frozen state of mind, not able to move, stifling the growth of our future to build and grow.
The Upshur County community grew and strived for a strong vision of this reality. It was demonstrated by our graduates, which empowered us in the midst of difficult times. Their vision brought determination and a graduation. Faith stretched each one through the vision of these graduates to grow and to meet the challenges and to see purpose for our future as educators and families. This impact was embraced to build the future with new adventures of hope, developing opportunities of vision that does not give up, but builds outside “the box.” inspire them, collaborate with them, and truly CARE for them.
Congratulations, Mr. Wilson, on a job well done, and thank you for tirelessly working to do all you can for our students!