March 03, 2010 - I finally found it. I didn't know I was looking for it, exactly, but I found it and I've got my fingers wrapped around it. I'm happy. I like it here.
The story begins with an apology to Michele Novak at Lake Orion High School. I had an appointment with Michele at 10 a.m. Thursday last week to talk about the upcoming Unity Week and Challenge Day, and I was already running late when I walked through the school's front doors. To my left, some 2,000 kids were cheering.
Crap, I thought. The game. The Special Olympics basketball game.
I ran down to check in with Michele, and told her I'd be right back, and I was. Thirty minutes later.
I didn't mean to be rude, but once I saw what was happening in that gym, I couldn't push, pull or drag myself away. There, on the floor, Lake Orion's Special Olympians were playing their annual basketball game , and their determination, confidence and gusto - lots of gusto - were immediately obvious.
But it took a minute to absorb the whole scene. On the sidelines, the cheerleaders were cheering. In the stands on one end of the gym, several members of the band were striking it up. Above, teachers, administrators, staff and others were looking on, and in the stands the LOHS student body was loud, loud, loud and proud as they cheered on the girls and guys in green. Fellow Dragons. The energy was electric. It gave me goose bumps. It made me proud—proud of the kids and proud of the school that supports this game every year.
Proud to work in this community.
And that's what I was looking for. Community. Something that walked right up, got in my face and said, 'Listen, we care about one another around here. Got it?'
Yep, I got it. The experience left me happy and inspired, and then it got better, especially once I found out Michele Novak wasn't waiting to clobber me back to her office.
Instead, she—along with another staffer and a student—sat for over an hour and told me about Unity Week, Challenge Day and everything it means. I've heard people out in the community praise these events and talk about the value to the kids and the community, and Thursday I could see where it comes from. The excitement and enthusiasm Michele brings to the undertaking are apparent. She and those on her team obviously believe in what they're doing, and they pour their hearts into it.
And I think it's great.
We've all seen what's happening around us, and the dangerous toll today's world is taking on so many of our kids.
Something has to change. I don't care if a district has technology coming out its ears and third graders proficient in seven languages.
If you have a building full of hurting kids - and kids hurting - what else matters?
Something has to change, and it has to start at home. And that's the message coming from Challenge Day. "Be the Change."
I'll run the story next week. Til then, Kudos, LOHS.
Lake Orion Review Editor