Beyond the media coverage – SCN Encourager 5/6/2013

Isn’t there always a story behind the story?

What school communicator doesn’t enjoy seeing a positive article in the news about one of their students, teams, teachers, or programs?

Media coverage of this kind provides a boost (like dark chocolate in my case) and sparks a number of scattered thoughts. I hope everyone will see this. It’s about time. I’ve got to share this on social media. Why can’t we get more stories like this?  You know what I mean.

On Saturday, two area high school students were crowned as the 2013 King and Queen in our community’s annual “Fiesta” celebration. Delfino Hernandez and Anyssa Madia Fowler earned  recognition for their scholarship, community service, talent, and character.

The fact that they attend different high schools – rivals even – was a plus, not a minus. So this was a “feel good” story in every way. Here it is if you’d like to check it out. (It’s probably similar to many of the positive articles about your schools and people – and oh, don’t we wish we had more of them!)

You’ll see that the story is a fairly straight-forward rundown of the event and its significance. I’m grateful for the attention, the writing, and the good photo. But as you know so well – whenever the accomplishments of our students, teams, teachers, and programs are featured – there’s always more that could have been reported if not for the constraints of time and space.

And for this school communicator (yours truly), Delfino and Anyssa delivered a couple of unreported messages that I’m going to carry around with me for awhile. I’m glad I was there.

Prior to the grand announcement of the winners by the judges, every “Fiesta” King and Queen contestant must perform in a talent show and deliver a speech in the civic center. It’s an interesting process, particularly for someone like me who has attended this event for more than 20 years.

When I saw how the students seemed so comfortable performing on stage in front of a large crowd – singing, dancing, speaking – without any worries about the photographers and videographers buzzing about, I couldn’t help connecting this to the 21st Century skills all of our schools are providing. The presentation skills of our students are incredible.

All of our students today possess a confidence and flair that I didn’t have until… OK, still don’t have.

Anyway, in the “personal speech” component, contestants spoke on a single topic. Without any notes, Defino spoke about coming to West Michigan several years ago and making the decision to join his high school robotics team his freshman year. He wasn’t sure he’d be accepted.

But Delfino’s love of math, science, and teamwork overcame whatever obstacles his language and family transportation struggles presented. While his broader theme emphasized participating in extra-curricular activities, his real message to the audience was about confronting his fears.

“Right now, this minute,” he said. “I’m nervous and scared. Inside me I have flutters. But I found out that every time I try something new… there is always something better for me after my nervousness goes away. Even now, while I make this speech I am very afraid. But later tonight – I know I will feel much better and want to eat again. And I may find out that I’ve won a scholarship! This is good. This is the way I will build my future. So I will always try.”

What an amazing young man, I thought to myself. When I think of how my own fears have kept me from trying different experiences over the years, I was so happy to see him choosing to take the “road less traveled” at age 17.  (I’m going to sign up for one of his webinars!)

Delfino is very much like the best and the brightest in your schools, too.

And so is Anyssa. She spoke about resolving conflict.

Anyssa spoke generally about how our own attitudes and prejudices move to the forefront whenever conflict arises.

However, when she mentioned the conflicts that frequently take place in her home with her parents over dating and curfew times, I stopped slouching in my seat, leaned forward, and perked up my listening. (What dad with three daughters wouldn’t? And while those days are now over for me… let’s just say the memories linger…)

Anyssa described the typical Friday night back-and-forth negotiations with her mom. She’d say midnight. Her mom would say 11 pm.

Anyssa would then counter with 11:45 pm and her mom would quickly respond with 11:30 pm.

“It was important that my mom and I could come up with a time,” said Anyssa. “Because my dad would stay out of it entirely until we agreed upon a time. And then he’d just tell me what time I have to be home  – and it’s always one hour earlier than the time mom and I worked out.”

From being challenged to face up to my fears by a 17 year-old – to admiring how a dad with a teenage daughter just a neighborhood away could actually “win a few” – it was quite a Fiesta for me.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I originally went there for the food.

Tom Page, SCN
car 05:06:13



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