Friday, October 28, 2016

Not So Scary Stuff

It’s that time of year again.  Black and orange are everywhere, and “Boo!” isn’t just something many of us said when our Buckeyes lost to Penn State last weekend.  It’s almost time for Halloween; the “scariest time of the year”.  Our staff and students are ready.  Even the preschoolers are excited!  They sang me their Halloween songs today.  They did an amazing job, and were even nice enough to let me participate with them.  Boy, was I scared when we ran across that black cat and the witch flew over our heads, though!  Those little three, four, and five year olds sitting around me didn’t seem fazed at all by those spooky occurrences (I think they may have been practicing, so they knew what was coming).

In fact, I KNOW the preschoolers had been practicing and were prepared for every scary situation that song threw at us.  I know this because I’ve seen Mrs. Marcia Osenga, Mrs. Rhonda Davis, and their amazing group of Early Childhood Education teachers working with them over the past week or so on practicing and perfecting every motion in the song.  So there was nothing to be afraid of for them!

That’s similar to what we’re doing in all of our classes here at Vantage.  For example, Vantage sent 17 welders, carpenters, heavy machine operators, culinary experts, and computer gurus to compete at last week’s MakerFest activities in Lima, Ohio.  If you would have asked these students to participate in (very competitive) events in front of judges and dozens of peers when they first came to Vantage, I’m guessing most of them would have been a bit scared, and probably declined the opportunity.  

However, with the training and practice they’ve received here, each of them competed confidently and represented our school with three 4th place finishes and a silver medal.  They didn’t just compete, though.  They also showed no fear in talking to the judges and local employers from our region.  One of them even got a job offer on the spot, while others made connections with employers who will be coming to Vantage in the near future to see more of what our labs have to offer.  Now that’s something to scream about (in a good way)!  That’s what being a career center is all about.  

Thank you to all those who competed, and the teachers who have been preparing them for these competitions (and so much more) since they showed the courage to face the “unknown” and come to Vantage.  Special thanks to Mr. Daniel Joyce for selecting and coaching our MakerFest teams.

So, with Halloween coming on Monday, I hope you all have a safe and FUNomenal weekend.  My wife (who is a dentist) would probably like me to tell you not to eat too much candy.  However, I can’t preach what I probably won’t practice.  

Friday, October 21, 2016


Students gather every morning.  They talk about the night before, or something that happened in class yesterday, or they might even share a story about how much they love the new chicken McGriddle from McDonald’s.  OK, so the last one may have been information I shared with a student this morning, but you get the point.  Our students love to talk to each other.  As much as they may pretend to be dreading the school day, it seems like they really do enjoy the opportunity to come to school and talk with their friends and teachers.  That’s part of what school is all about.  Building relationships that will undoubtedly help you get through your bad days and make the good times just a little bit better.  That’s why we Interact with those around us.  
Because of that desire to build positive relationships that improve our lives and the lives of those around us, the Vantage Interact Club was started in 2001.  The club had their first informational meetings of the new school year Wednesday.  The students who attended the meetings were introduced (through a slide-show) to the carpentry class that the club has sponsored in Haiti since it all began over 15 years ago (at the urging of Miss Peg Bollenbacher).  
As most of you are probably aware, the country of Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world.  In recent years, these economic troubles have only gotten more challenging with severe weather like major hurricanes and earthquakes.  That’s where the need for our program comes in.  The people of Haiti have a real need for the basic carpentry skills that the Vantage Interact Club helps to deliver each year.  Miss Bollenbacher (who has helped run the club even after her retirement from teaching), has shared multiple success stories about her riding through the mountainous areas of Haiti and seeing former students.  Many of them are still using the tools and skills they acquired from the program we sponsor to help provide for their families.  
The carpentry program in Haiti is just one more example of how the people of Vantage sincerely care for others.  It’s a natural extension of what we do here at Vantage.  Just like the students in our building, the knowledge gained by the Haitian students is likely to help them advance throughout their lives.  An old saying says “give me a fish and feed me for a day; teach me how to fish and feed me for a lifetime”.  We’re not simply building houses for the people of Haiti.  We’re teaching people the skills to build for themselves.  That, in my mind, is priceless.  
That’s why the interact club is such a great organization to be part of here at Vantage.  The students will work throughout the year with our new advisors (special thanks to Sonya Yenser-Hammon, Jill DeWert, Sarah Wurth and Ashley Cline) and Miss Bollenbacher (who I’m certain the kids will love) to come up with some creative and fun ideas to raise money to continue funding our fantastic program in Haiti.  It usually starts with our “Haiti Carnival” on the Monday before Thanksgiving break (this year, that’s November 21).  During the carnival, our students and staff get to host and play games in the commons to raise money and awareness for the Interact Club.  All proceeds go directly toward helping the carpentry program in Haiti.  It’s always a great time, and an excellent fund-raiser.  I’m looking forward to seeing how the kids in this year’s club interact with their advisors to plan and implement more excellent ideas.  If you happen to have an idea that you think could help, please feel free to contact me!        
Finally, I’d like to send a special thanks to all of those students who attended the meetings today.  If you did not attend the meeting, but think you might be interested, feel free to join the next one!  All students and staff are always welcome to join and help whenever they have time.  We also greatly appreciate the work so many Vantage graduates and former advisors (like Mr. Matt Miller) put in to build the Interact Club into what it is today.  Last, but certainly not least, Vantage would be remiss if we didn’t thank the Van Wert Rotary Club for their amazing support of Interact Club over the years.  Without the help of the Rotary, we simply couldn’t accomplish all of the wonderful things we do for the people of Haiti.   
If you would like to learn more about the Vantage Interact Club, please take some time to browse through our informational website that the new advisors have worked very hard to create.  It can be found at:  
Thank you for your time, and have a phenomenal weekend interacting with those around you!  

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Forces in Action at Vantage

I had the opportunity to sit in on Mr. Matt Miller’s Physics class Monday.  He was doing an excellent job of teaching it.  All of the students are engaged and correctly answering his questions.  Yet I had NO idea what was going on in the first few minutes of class.  Mr. Miller was using trigonometry to help teach the students about gravity, force, and acceleration.  I kept thinking about my physics professor in college who taught me about these concepts only by making me wonder how gravity might force my head to accelerate toward the desk as I started to fall asleep.  Mr. Miller, however, did not make me wonder about that.  He was using the example of a snowboarder being pulled up a ski-ramp.  Even though science and math have been an uphill battle for me since I can remember, I couldn’t help but be engaged in what was going on around me.  
My strong points have always been reading, history, and writing (well, you can be the judge of that after reading this).  However, as I listened to every student take his or her turn answering or asking a thoughtful question to continue to drive the discussion; I wondered how many of them had always felt like science and math weren’t their strong points before they came to Vantage and joined this class.  By virtue of sheer numbers in the class, several students almost certainly had to be of a similar mindset as me, yet all of them were now understanding a fairly complex problem on many levels.  That says a lot about the type of students and staff we have here at Vantage Career Center.
Throughout the year, I’ve been in multiple classrooms where all of the students were engaged and asking real questions that drove discussions even further.  When that’s happening, it is obvious that learning is taking place.  Even if they may not necessarily enjoy what’s being taught, or if they find it extremely difficult, they’re not afraid to take on the challenge.  That says a lot about who our students are.  It also says a lot about what our teachers try to do on a daily basis.    
For example, in Mr. Miller’s problem, the students eventually discovered that the force pulling the snowboarder up the hill simply wasn’t as strong as the forces pulling him down.  Therefore, the snowboarder was actually still sliding down the hill.  However, the way they solved the problem also provided a clear path for them to be able to figure out just how much force would be needed to make sure the snowboarder started moving back up the hill.  To me, that’s a great metaphor for everyone involved.  No matter what forces might be pulling us down a bit, there’s always a way that we can start pulling ourselves back up.  No matter how complex that path might be, our teachers and staff are always going to do their best to help our students find it.  I’ve never worked with a more helpful and positive group of people.  
For that, everyone in the Vantage community deserves a big “THANK YOU”!  It’s been an excellent start to the school year.  
Finally, a quick update to remind everyone of exactly why Vantage is the fantastic place it truly is.  This weekend is the 3rd Annual Quarterless Auction to benefit the “Hey Buddy” Scholarship in honor of former Vantage and Wayne Trace welder Robbie Seffernick.  The event is Sat, October 15 at Wayne Trace High School, starting at 11AM.  Our students, staff, and communities have done an amazing job in building and donating some awesome items for this benefit. The hunting themed table pictured below was created by our Industrial Mechanics lab, (led by Senior Alec Murphy).  Robbie was a hard-working student who always kept a positive attitude.  We are proud to say he was a Vantage student and look forward to seeing support for his scholarship continue to grow in his memory.  Thank you all for your time!