You DO Have A CHOICE!

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"One's philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes... and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility."

Eleanor Roosevelt

 

This past August a tragedy struck the community of Maple City Glen Lake in Northwest Michigan when some students from the local high school were involved in an automobile accident that ended up killing two and injuring two more, just weeks before the start of the 2014-2015 school year. As one could imagine, EVERYBODY in the area was affected; people in the high school, people throughout the district, people in the WHOLE community... NOT just the immediate families and the individuals tragically involved.

Why did this happen?

HOW did this happen?

What could we have done that would have prevented this from happening?

 

It would be a gross understatement to say that it has been a difficult year for all. Some in similar circumstances might have been tempted to throw their arms in the air, curse their bad fortune---give up, "How can it be that such bad things can happen to good people?" But the leaders at Glen Lake knew they couldn't do this. They had to do something MORE. They had to do something more for the so-many other of their students... to help them deal, help them recover, help them move on and possibly even grow from the tragedy. So, led by first-year athletic director, Jennifer Johnston, and resident leader in the community, head football coach Gerald Angers, the school administration decided to do something. That something was to bring in SportsLeader to conduct a day of multiple student workshops focusing on making good choices, dealing with adversity, enlisting support from peers appropriately and daily planning for success. Over 250 students- grades 9-12- were involved. The event was so well-received by school members that the local newspaper,The Leelanau Enterprise included an article highlighting the event to the local reading community. Below is the article:

 

G-L motivational speaker gives students help in reaching goals 
By Amy Hubbell Of The Enterprise staff 
(Edited)

 
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GLEN LAKE students pledged last week to strengthen the school ‘family’ by praising one person in public daily; encouraging private vs. public criticism and when a mistake is made, apologizing within 24 hours face-toface. The banner will hang in school as a reminder to students.

 

Glen Lake sophomore Grace Daniels knows what she wants and has tools to reach those goals. She is one of more than 250 students in grades 9-12 who heard motivational speaker Chris Willertz at Glen Lake last Thursday.

“It really opened my eyes to things I could do to achieve my goals and that achieving these goals is possible,” the 15-year-old girl said.

The importance of making good choices was the focus of a special program presented by Willertz, a former coach and teacher. He works full-time for SportsLeader, a virtue-based mentoring and motivational program. SportsLeader's messages are usually directed at student athletes, but apply to everyone.

“The biggest thing I wanted to get across was the importance of making good choices. By thinking a little more deeply, you can establish habits to make good choices and help do the right thing more often,” he said.

In four separate sessions, students were given gold cards and asked by Willertz to think of one goal and write it on the card.

“Only 3 percent of Americans write down their goals,” he said. “Start writing down and tracking your goals and that is a tremendous edge over others.”

Willertz shared two handouts with students: “Habits of the Wealthiest People!” based on Thomas C. Coley’s study of the daily habits of 233 wealthy and 128 poor people; and “The 14 Habits of Top College Students.” Coley found that 81 percent of the “wealthy” defined as earning at least $160,000 annually and holding at least $3.2 million in assets, maintain a “to do” list. In addition, 67 percent in this category watched less than an hour of television per day.

“Remember, following these traits won’t necessarily make you rich … but they are worth a shot,” the speaker said.

Students were asked to pick two things off the handout that they’d be willing to do for 30 days. “That’s how many days it takes to develop a new habit,” he said. They were also asked to pick two items from the 14 habits list fromuniversityparent.com (setting goals, dividing up tasks) and make it part of their “action” plan on the gold card, which they’ll use to track their daily habits.

“Once they do something for 30 days, they can discover that it’s easier to do than they thought, and the good habits become second nature,” Willertz said.

He said that everyone — school, grade level, family at home and community — are family. As such, they should treat one another better and hold each other accountable. Students were challenged to do three things to strengthen “their family”:

 ---Praise one person in public daily. Not via text, social media but face-to face spoken praise. 
_ ---If you need to criticize, challenge or encourage another person, do it privately, face-to-face and with kindness. Not via social media. 
_ ---If you do make a mistake, apologize face-to-face within 24 hours.

Students who took the challenge signed their name to Glen Lake banner that will be hung in school as a daily reminder. In January, students will be asked to review their gold cards and discuss them as part of their ASC (academic service center). Additional gold cards will also be available at this time.

Willertz is scheduled to make a follow up visit to the school next spring.

Last week’s visit was the third time he had spoken with Glen Lake students. 
Willertz met with the Laker football team during pre-season training this fall and returned to talk with the student athletes after the fatal accident, Aug. 23, which left two people dead — including one Glen Lake student.

Half of the cost of the $3,000 Sportsleader program will be paid by the Glen Lake Educational Foundation, and the remaining $1,500 will come from $4,000 allocated to the recently formed “Student Safety Awareness” committee.

 
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Two Glen Lake High School students pose with their Gold Cards at the school awards lunch for students that had completed their SL Gold Cards.

 

Congratulations to Glen Lake High School and the Glen Lake school district! Too often we promise ourselves that things WILL get better, but we don't commit ourselves to the difficult task of changing the behaviors needed to ensure the change. Not the case with Glen Lake! The administration has committed to do MORE to help their students by holding their SportsLeader workshop. Best of all, that commitment hasn't waned. The Glen Lake administration has and is continuing to follow up on their campaign to help their students become better leaders who make better choices:

---At the end of January, students that had completed their goal planning Gold Cards were rewarded with a catered lunch. 
---The "Laker Pride" Banner signed by students at the SportsLeader presentation was hung up near the entrance to remind students of the pledge they made. 
---Daily afternoon announcements include reminders to make good choices and to continue doing their Gold Cards. 
---All staff members have received Gold Cards as well, to help model the vital behaviors of planning, goal-setting and interpersonal communication.

 

Dear SportsLeader readers, our young people are making poor choices EVERY DAY! These poor choices are crippling their lives NOW, not to mention their futures. Many of us see it firsthand, day...after day...after day.

BUT IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY!!!

Each and every one of our young people can be taught leadership skills-NEED-to be taught leadership skills, even if the sole purpose is "only" for their own personal leadership. Let's not fool ourselves, we CAN do something about the choices are youth are making, in fact, we HAVE to do something about it! Thank you leaders of the Glen Lake Community Schools District for deciding to embrace the challenge.

Our hopes at SportsLeader is that their example will lead all of us to do the same.

More Than A Coach...SportsLeader!! 
Chris Willertz

 

STARFISH POEM

One day an old man was walking down the beach just before dawn. In the distance he saw a young man picking up stranded starfish and throwing them back into the sea. As the old man approached the young man, he asked, "Why do you spend so much energy doing what seems to be a waste of time?" The young man explained that the stranded starfish would die if left in the morning sun. The old man exclaimed, "But there must be thousands of starfish. How can your efforts make any difference?" The young man looked down at the starfish in his hand and as he threw it to safety in the sea, he said," It makes a difference to this one!"