Lesson Learned (February 24)


In 12 years serving as an elected member of the Upshur Board of Education, I have learned many lessons. However, the message has never been more clearly expressed as the oh so wise response of one of our Buccaneer Senior Basketball players. I am amazed at the insight, truly! Here is the statement by Olivia Ellis from The Record Delta’s January 22 Buckhannon-Upshur “Sport”-Light interview by reporter Dalton Wright:

Question 7 - What’s the biggest lesson you have learned while playing sports?

“I think one of the most important things I’ve learned from basketball, specifically, is not just how to win with dignity but how to lose with it as well. You can’t let a loss define you or consume you, you must accept it, learn from it and build on your mistakes. As athletes, the game has a way of making you realize that it’s okay if not every play or every game goes the way you want it to, which I view a larger life lesson. Not everything goes your way in life, but you have to make the best of every situation,” explained Ellis.

Now the leap of reality for my response to the recent vote against the School Bond Election is easy to see. Olivia Ellis gives exactly the tone and the expression I wish to take: “It’s okay if not every play or every game goes the way you want it to, which I view a larger life lesson.” The game of life has been played; now the time has come to go forward. The citizens spoke plainly and profoundly. With dignity and grace, I say as a public servant, I wish to continue to do everything I can for the sake of the children.

The upside of the School Bond vote is that we go forward with no debt. As a consummate outdoor person thrilled to live in wild, wonderful West Virginia, I do check for storm clouds before I go outside. In our society I see many overwhelmed by debt. As a physician I hear the agony of families faced with a decision for or against a medical or surgical treatment limited by financial resources. Those storms I see brewing need not impact the education of our children and grandchildren. Our students are being educated in buildings that are paid in full.

I see wisdom in the words of Olivia: “You can’t let a loss define you or consume you, you must accept it, learn from it and build on your mistakes.” Indeed, when I studied medicine at West Virginia University School of Medicine, over those four years our class of 75 future doctors thrived by working hard and playing hard. Our studies proved a grueling cycle of long lectures, extensive labs, very detailed tests. We learned about the human body at least 12 different ways. Then we began bedside care with patients. Those hospital rounds and all-night emergency calls lasted up to 80 hours per week.

Olivia speaks wisely of basketball as a game that must be mastered without letting it consume the players. Just so I knew that in the future treating patients with Life and Death in the balance would be a constant learning process. I needed to master the basics of human anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pharmacology and more. The only way I could do that was to set a pattern of working hard and playing hard. For me that included a three-mile run every day as the sun set on the West Virginia hills around Morgantown. While jogging I analyzed my day. My fight against disease and death became a very serious pursuit. Health and the pursuit of happiness became an all-consuming goal.

As Olivia notes for basketball, I feel the same for service to our Upshur County Schools. I will do everything for the sake of the students. Wholeheartedly I embraced building a Career Technical Buckhannon-Upshur High School. My fellow citizens of Upshur County decided otherwise. I accept the vote. But I must strategize on other ways to educate our students for employability, a big part of our children and grandchildren’s lifelong game!

Olivia explains and I concur: “Not everything goes your way in life, but you have to make the best of every situation.” Now the question remains how to do this, for our Mission remains unchanged:

“The Mission for Upshur County Schools is to provide academic preparation, social responsibility, employability and a desire for lifelong learning.”

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