Moments of clarity, appreciation, and thankfulness hit me at unusual times the older I get. The events the evening of Jan. 27 at Morris Community High School brought all of those positive emotions to the surface and reminded me once again that MCHS is a special place.
Although the scoreboard indicated an L-P victory, my experience that Saturday evening was another reminder of what a privilege it is to be an educator.
I have spent a good deal of my life in a gymnasium, from the years watching my older brothers, Tom and Tim, play at Dwight High School through my years supervising and attending events as an administrator. It would be untruthful to say that high school athletics has always been associated with positive experiences in my career, but this particular evening refreshed my perspective.
When I walked in to the Hall of Distinction reception, I was immediately impressed by the number of family, friends and community well-wishers that attended to pay tribute to these deserving honorees.
Our second-year GAVC Culinary students Paige Whalen, Alec Arnold, and Halli Finn circulated throughout the area serving delicious appetizers to the group. Instructor Zan Higgins leads this group. She had a helpful assist from our food service director, Lisa Vaksdal, to make sure everything went off without a hitch.
The Morris Community High School Education Foundation has done a tremendous job with the Hall of Distinction program. This group emerged in 2015 after several years of work behind the scenes. Their efforts toward helping MCHS students is very much appreciated. Sitting in the gym and listening as several of our National Honor Society students read the names and accomplishments of the inductees was impressive. A highlight of the evening was when Mr. Hussey awarded Joan Sereno an honorary MCHS diploma.
She received a standing ovation and I received one of her patented “hugs and face squeezes” – like she has given to thousands of area residents through her tireless work with community hospice. All of the recipients are a source of pride and represent the amazing accomplishments of countless MCHS graduates.
The pep band, under the leadership of Brock Feece, provides a great atmosphere and showcases some of our talented musicians. I had to request my favorite high school pre-game warm-up song “The Horse.” Student leader Logan Mueller honored my request, even though they had played it previously.
Prior to halftime, Molly Nystedt and Mackenzie Eber presented Mr. Hussey and I with our state runner-up medals to add to our collections. I have been fortunate enough to receive 10 medals in my 14 years at MCHS thanks to the talent and dedication of the cheerleading, football, and pom programs!
At halftime, the 2017-18 pom squad was recognized for their third consecutive state runner-up finish at the IHSA State Finals. Coach Bernardi, Coach Carlson, and the entire team dedicate a tremendous amount of time and energy to fine tune their craft.
I enjoyed watching the proud parents that support their students get a chance to see their daughters recognized.
Two parents, Mark Olson and Jason Smith, were students of mine at G-SW and Coal City High School during my teaching days. Maddie Olson and the Smith twins – Jacinda and Jenika – have all heard me mention “when your former student’s children are graduating, it may be time to call it quits!”
Coach Zomboracz and the Guard finished off the festivities with a partial performance of this year’s show as they prepare for their competition season. This program continues to grow and their success the past several years has been impressive.
The MCHS varsity squad continues to play hard and represent us well, even though the scoreboard doesn’t always reflect that. Coach Blumberg and Coach Kein continue to prepare and battle working toward late-year improvement and competitiveness in the post-season.
That Saturday evening will stick with me as a reminder of the tremendous accomplishments by Morris Community High School students from the past and the present and the community support that makes this high school a great place to work.