"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." - Lao Tzu
As we near the end of Grand River Academy’s winter break and enter into the new year, I was able to reflect upon 2016 and our mission in providing young men the opportunity to “activate their academic, emotional, and social potential and prepare them for lifelong success.”
While we keep the end goal (Graduation) always in sight, it’s important to remember how the small, daily activities play into achieving that goal. The quote above inspired me to think about what does a perfect day look like for everyone here at Grand River Academy?
GRA’S Wonderful, Amazing, Very Best Day Ever!
The smell of a fresh and hot breakfast fills the air as you walk to Armington Hall. Once inside, there’s an option for all - and everyone leaves satisfied with their meal. All meals this day had food freshly crafted and conversations at the tables were robust, humorous, and even philosophical.
Off to classes we go. Inside Bauder Hall, Mr. Crowell’s students are using their Chromebooks to learn about a pivotal moment in US History. In Skeggs Hall, Mrs. Farrell’s students are learning about their individual learning styles and practicing their reading comprehension strategies. In Green Hall, Mrs. Carrel’s students, sitting around the Harkness table, discuss Hamlet. Lastly, in Armington Hall, Mrs. Nipper’s seniors are putting final touches on their college applications, and then a call rings into her office. It is John Carroll University telling Mrs. Nipper that a student just earned a $20,000 scholarship. Wow!
At lunch, Mr. Shreve announces that Noah blocked seven shots and Mrs. Farrell scored two goals in indoor soccer last night. Mr. Kovacik proudly lists the names of students earning an “A” on his organic chemistry exam and notes those students whose effort was extraordinary. Mrs. Kitchen lets everyone know about the Elf showing later that afternoon and there “might” be spaghetti and syrup for anyone who attends. Dean Thomas announces a dress down day tomorrow and the ROPES speech was heartfelt and meaningful. At lunch, on this wonderful, amazing, very best day ever, you see everyone at their tables, almost like small families, breaking bread together as one large family – GRA.
After lunch, it’s off to classes again. Mr. Riddell is taking advantage of the double block schedule and is seen herding the eighth graders into the van for a trip to the Smolen Covered Bridge. As you walk around outside, you see Mr. Rick Thomas has his students outside taking pictures and using the drone, while Mrs. Ginn has her art students drawing the facades of our buildings and Mrs. Thomas is walking with her ELL international students across the street to Austinburg Elementary to teach Mandarin to the second grade students. It’s a busy afternoon!
Because it’s GRA’s Wonderful, Amazing, Very Best Day EVER, Ms. Hedrick’s study hall list has no one on it, and Dean Thomas’ service list is empty, simply reading “GREAT JOB.”
Then, activity time. Just a light basketball practice today after a hard-fought win last night at Andrews Osborne Academy. Anime is meeting with Mrs. Studer. The Academic Challenge Team has an event at Lakeside High. Wrestling is practicing for a meet this weekend. Mr. Polak’s Gentleman’s Group is learning a new dance and the students are off to Scribbler’s for Coffee Club. These afternoon activities capped off a busy day, where teachers were engaged with students and those students were absorbed with learning – both in the classroom and through activities.
Dinner? Simply perfect. Pizza night. Enough said.
Tonight, the dorm parents will be facilitating their fireside chats as part of our student life program. Tonight’s theme is INTROSPECTION. How can we reflect on who we are and make meaningful changes in our lives? The same applies for our dorms, our community and our school.
Study hall time. Many students already have their work completed from the three study halls during the day. Those that do not, work diligently at their desk or in the Knowledge Commons at Gates Library with Mr. Zappitello. Every dorm room on campus is clean. The trash was emptied. Laundry put away. Desks clear of clutter. And, the beds were even made. Wow, an incredible sight, once which most of our students’ parents would never believe.
Some shower before bed. Others watch the Cleveland Browns win their Thursday night football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers (it's going to happen one year!). Many go to the Bud Field Student Center for a quick snack, comradery, and some competitive ping pong before bed.
Bed time. Everyone was in their room on time. The lights are out. The teachers in the dorm say one last “Good Night” to the students, and a Good Night to GRA. The sky is clear. The stars are shining bright over GRA tonight.
Students were open to learning and trying new things. They listened. They tried hard. They created and collaborated.
Teachers motivated. They counseled. They advised. They mentored. They coached. Simply, they were teachers in everything they did.
Today was our greatest day. Nothing special. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just us at our finest.
Tomorrow we will wake up. Look ourselves in the mirror and say to ourselves --- Today will be GRA’s greatest day.