Lesson Learned "Courage"

Lesson learned this Winter is an answer to the lifelong question: What is courage?

The next installment in understanding courage partly came by seeking an answer to the way I want to live—running the race of life boldly with courage. I settled into a rocking chair near our fireplace and digested a book which made “The New York Times” Bestseller List for more than a year: “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande. The doctor/author helps Araceli and me live courageously our final days. We face our own mortality.

Certainly, young people need new tools for courageous living also. Principal Eddie Vincent has spearheaded the reorganization of our Buckhannon-Upshur High School guidance and counseling service into the Buccaneer Student Services to address the needs. B-U High School is taking a different approach to help students realize everything in life is “figure-outable” if they work hard and trust the process. Active planning underway allows our children and grandchildren to boldly face each day living courageously.

The Board of Education has encouraged the newly formed Buccaneer Student Services team, whose members include Vice Principal H. Randall Roy, counselor Suzie McCoy, counselor Anthony McDaniels, technology integration specialist Danielle Rexroad, and Dean of Students Shauna Jones. The BOE wants problem solving skills taught so our students can live outside the box.

Dean of Students Shauna Jones understands “courage” is the watch word! Teaching courage is vital. “The need in our community, with the drug crisis and poverty, has intensified,” Jones said. “We still have the scheduling—it didn’t go away.”

Jones said the mission of the Buccaneer Student Services is to provide a compass toward employment, enrollment, or enlistment, while also providing lifelong resiliency skills. 

“It’s tough being a teenager, and it always has been, but more so today,” Jones said. “Helping students develop the skills to get through here that will last them until adulthood, and help them choose one of those three paths – employment, enrollment, or enlistment – is our goal.”

Jones said building resiliency skills is vital; some examples of those skills include stress management, mindfulness, being able to navigate tough conversations with family members or peers and teaching students to communicate with others and teachers.

My other source of inspiration this winter season is Dr. Atul Gawande, author of “Being Mortal,” who eruditely takes the long view exploring Plato’s dialogue “The Laches” from 380 B.C. on courage. This has relevancy to our Buccaneer Student Services which carries water for our B-U High School mission:

“Our mission is to improve our community by providing the opportunity for every student to grow socially and academically every day.”

Lesson learned for 2020: Be of Good Courage. Plato’s dialogue defines that type of courage as strength in the face of knowledge of what is to be feared or hoped. Wisdom that comes from life experience such as Araceli and I have lived is defined as prudent strength. 

Combine this with Shauna Jones’s goal for our students to develop resiliency, and we have our “Buccaneer” symbol of a pirate with a knife in his mouth, eye patch over his left eye, yet not giving up in the face of fear and hardship. What a visual lesson of courage!


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