A-W begins classes with memorial tribute

Posted August 30, 2018 at 5:00 am

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By Julie Ann Madden

On Aug. 23, Akron-Westfield students returned to the classroom with the traditional Westerner opening ceremony.

However, there was a special tribute added to the tradition this year. The Class of 2019, juniors, conducted a special tribute to their fallen classmate, Grace Martinsen, who died unexpectedly this past spring.

Each junior released a purple balloon, Grace’s favorite color, and the student body and staff took a few moments in silent tribute.

The Albert E. Hoschler American Legion Post No. 186 performed their flag-raising ceremony with James Clinton, Leon Gabel, Kaylene Hawkins, Earl Hilliker, Richard Huebner, Garry Jacobson, Lynette Kiger, Daryl Myers, Stan Rolfes, Keith Swanson, Warren Thompson, Bob Watson, Police Chief Bill Young and Sons of American Legion Commander Steve Liebetrau participating.

The 2018 Girl Stater Hailey Wait and Boy Stater Cameron Schroeder raised the flag while the A-W Pep Band performed the national anthem.

Hawkins performed a rendition of “Reveille” on trumpet.

Akron Mayor Sharon Frerichs led the Pledge of Allegiance, then addressed the student body.

“I would like to take this opportunity to welcome those of you who are new to the staff here at school, those of you who are new residents to our community, and those of you who are new to our school. Congratulations to those of you who are finally in your first year at the “‘big school,’” said Frerichs, who is a retired A-W high school business teacher. “I wish only the very best for each of you for your 2018-2019 school year!”

“In helping to accomplish that goal, I have just a few ideas to share with you in order to help you succeed in that goal,” she said. “I know most of you know the importance of being a Respectful, Responsible, Prepared, and Kind student. Today I am going to concentrate on Kind.”

“Words are like a tube of toothpaste,” said Frerichs, who had three student helpers demonstrating this. “If used the right way, toothpaste helps clean our teeth and keep our mouth healthy.”

“Words are the same way,” she said. “If we use our words to cheer someone up and say nice, helpful things, our words can bring joy and good health to another person.”

“Sometimes we can get sloppy with our toothpaste,” said Frerichs. “It can leak all over the cap and make an annoying mess.”

“ Same with our words,” she said. “Sometimes we aren’t careful, and little cut-downs or grumblings slip out of our mouth.”

“When we’re sloppy with our words, we make little messes,” said Frerichs. “We end up with bad moods and hurt feelings.”

“Now if you squeeze really hard on a tube of toothpaste, all the toothpaste comes squirting out,” she said as the first student volunteer squeezed the tube really hard onto a paper plate held by the second student volunteer. “What a mess that makes!”

As the third student helper spread the toothpaste all over the paper plate with a spoon, Frerichs said, “Our words can do the same thing. When you open your mouth and speak hurtful, mean things, you make a huge mess!”

“Have you ever tried shoving toothpaste back into the tube after it has been squirted out?” she asked as the student volunteers tried to do just that. “What do you think? You can’t, can you?”

  “The same with your words,” said Frerichs. “Once you say those hurtful things, you can’t take them back.”

“Saying ‘sorry’ or ‘I was just kidding,’ doesn’t take the sting of those words away,” she said. “Long after you have forgotten what you’ve said, the person you talked mean to will remember it; maybe forever.”

“You can’t take it back, just like you can’t put toothpaste back into the tube,” said Frerichs. “I hope you will remember this plate of toothpaste for the rest of your life. Your words have power. Be careful how you use them!”

“As you start school today, you are about to see just how much weight your words carry,” she told the crowd. “You are going to have the opportunity to use your words to hurt, demean, slander and wound others, but instead I encourage you to:

• Take the opportunity to use your words to heal, encourage, inspire and love others.

• When others are misusing their words, guard your words. Walk away from the situation if you must.

• Be known for your gentleness and compassion, just as your schoolmate Grace Martinsen is remembered.

• Say “I’m sorry” for when you truly are sorry.

• Say what you mean and mean what you say.

• Say Please, Thank you, and Pardon (or excuse) Me, whenever the situation warrants it.

“You will never, ever regret choosing kindness,” said Frerichs. “So your assignment today, with no due date is to:

• Make the choice every morning that positive words will come out of your mouth.

• Decide today that you are going to be help build a better place at our A-W school, our community, our state, our nation, and our world.

• Treat others as you would like them to treat you and you will ALL have a great school year!”

The pep band performed the school’s Fight Song and the students headed into the school to begin first assignment: Be Kind.

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