2014 Summer Series

The Most Important Lesson I Learned at APS, by Samuel TeBos

AHS14During my freshman year in football, Coach Brose decided to start a leadership class before school. That class taught me many important life lessons. The most important lesson that I personally took from it was the lesson on a Pyrrhic victory. The phrase Pyrrhic victory is named after Greek King Pyrrhus ofEpirus, whose army suffered irreplaceable casualties in defeating the Romans at Heraclea in 280 BC andAsculumin 279 BC during the Pyrrhic War. He won the battle, but in turn lost the war. This phrase can be taken to mean many different things; I take it two different ways. One is that I always need to see the big picture and be prepared for the future and not just go at what is right in front of me. That is a key life lesson I learned in high school that still holds very true, but it is not the most important lesson I learned in high school.

The most important lesson I learned was the other meaning I take from the phrase: “pick your battles and cut your losses” when it comes to arguments. Coming into high school, I was willing to argue anything with anyone, and I would not give in to anything. I was determined to be right at any cost. I shortly realized that, with the exception of certain topics on which I stand firm, most of those arguments are not life and death scenarios, and by battling like I did, I would lose more than I would gain. By fighting tooth and nail and not be willing to compromise on everyday arguments, I would lose my peers’ respect and not be able to accomplish anything major. It would be a Pyrrhic victory because I might win the argument, but in doing so, I’d have lost more than you I gained.

What I have found works best is to first listen to the other side of the argument and then put myself in the others’ shoes and try to see the situation from their perspective. Once I have done that, the other person is almost always willing to listen to my side, and this gives me the insight into making a mature and logical compromise that works best for both of us, where each person gives up as little as possible.

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The Most Important Lesson I Learned at AHS, by Matthew Conflitti

AHS14Lessons of life can be learned in and out of the classroom.  I enjoy learning new things at school about science, math, and English, but I like to consider the knowledge of those topics as skills rather than life lessons. A life lesson is something that sticks with you even after you have forgotten everything you have learned from schooling. It becomes a part of your morals that you strive to pass onto your children and grandchildren. Most of these are things you cannot learn in a traditional classroom with notebooks and textbooks and number two pencils. I suppose you could read and write about people who have achieved learning these life lessons, but there is something about experiencing things for yourself that makes them actually stick.

In today’s busy society, people seem to have lost sight of the more important values in life. High school classes are full of homework, projects, and presentations that often won’t matter in the longrun.  Yet, students stress out about so many meticulous and irrelevant details.  I am in no way advocating for the laziness of future students, but it seems to me that our scope has changed, or veered off slightly, from what really matters: how we interact with the people around us in a positive way.

School has become a competition of grades where we are categorized by our GPA and how well we scored on the ACT.  This leads to pressure on students regarding which college to attend and what to study. It seems everyone we talk to about where we plan to go to college has some sort of two cents that they want to add: “Oh, don’t go there. No, study this instead.”  School has slowly taught me over the past four years that I have the final say on every decision in my life.  I have learned that if I try to meet everyone else’s expectations and forget my own, I will surely fail and feel worse about my abilities as a student and as a person.

Incoming freshmen should sit down before they start in September and write down five goals they want to achieve by the end of their senior year — and then stick with them. I did not do this, and I felt  I had strayed slightly during my middle years. At the end of the day, you have to live with yourself and your decisions. Wouldn’t you rather have those decisions be your own? If you made the wrong decision, you can learn from it and become a better person because of it.

If you have a dream, accomplish it. If you have a life goal, achieve it.  Just make sure that it is your decision. Promise yourself that you will never let anyone sway you from your position. If you can do this, you will succeed in life.

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The Most Important Lesson I Learned at APS, by Danielle Schmidt

Schmidt, DanielleOn May 22nd, 2014, I was handed my high school diploma and sent off into the real world. I am a student who has attended Allendale Public Schools since my very first day of kindergarten, and Allendale Public Schools shaped me into who I am today. In this school district, I have been truly prepared to go out into the real world. The teachers have taught me much that I know, but the most important lesson I learned from Allendale Public Schools cannot be taught simply in a classroom. The most important thing I learned at Allendale Public Schools, is that life is all about the people. From social skills to empathy to respect, I learned it all at Allendale Public Schools.

In my early middle school years, I started participating in after-school activities. I was a cheerleader and a member of the student council. I tried to do as many extracurriculars as possible. The teachers always highlighted the importance of getting involved in school, so when I finally did, I realized why they had always suggested it. In these after school activities, I broke out of my shell. I was an awkward middle school girl. I had tried to perm my hair which had turned into a complete disaster, and my closest friend was probably my Tamagotchi. I was weird, and I’m not afraid to admit it. I built up my social skills when I decided to join a few school activities. I learned how to make friends, and I learned how to actually talk to people. Allendale Public Schools always highlights the importance of getting involved, and it is important that every student take this chance. Activities teach kids how to be social and make friends that can last a lifetime.

Allendale Public Schools also taught me respect. The teachers were always nice and understanding, but in order to earn this kindness from them, you needed to respect them. I quickly learned in high school that I would get nowhere if I didn’t respect my peers and teachers. This trait is especially important since people will never get a job if they can’t respect their employers or co-workers. I believe that, in general, kids normally respect their parents, but in APS we learned we needed to have respect for everyone we had to work with.

The last, yet possibly most important trait I learned in Allendale Public Schools was empathy. I learned that arguing with someone you don’t agree with gets you nowhere. Instead, it is much more important to learn how to understand, to learn why and how people feel the way they do. It is okay to disagree with others; it is not okay to tell them they aren’t allowed to believe what they believe. Putting myself in other people’s shoes will get me further in life than what I would otherwise expect. Since Allendale Public Schools has a wide variety of beliefs and traditions, it is almost impossible not to learn this quality here.

Allendale Public Schools have given me so much to take away and use later in life. I’m proud to be an alumni of Allendale High School because our school district is a wonderful place to live and learn. APS teaches the most important qualities one will need when going out into the real world. Social skills are important if we ever want to make friends. Respect is important if we ever want to get a job. Empathy is important if we ever want to keep relationships with others. Allendale Public Schools isn’t only about grammar and math equations; after all, the most important thing I learned there was that it is really all about other people and how to interact with them.

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The Most Important Lesson I Learned at APS, by Chandler Stevens

Stevens, ChandlerThe most important lesson I have learned throughout my high school career was not a lesson that I learned specifically in a math class, English class, music class, or any other formal class. This lesson was learned throughout my days at Allendale High, and then perpetuated throughout my day-­to-­day life.

The lesson began with a quote from Mahatma Ghandi:  “We need to be the change we wish to see in the world.” This struck home for me, especially in my senior year. It inspired me to achieve greater things. It inspired me to go beyond myself. It inspired me to make the world a better place. While I did not directly learn this in school, Allendale High was an important factor in opening me to this mindset.

It is hard to narrow my high school experience down to a few examples where I was inspired to be great or to do great things. All throughout my educational career thus far, the teachers and staff at Allendale have always been behind me, encouraging me and praising my work, but also pushing me to a higher standard of achievement. Beginning my freshman year, staff encouraged me to start strong and be the very best I could be to prepare myself for my future as a “world changer.” I recall this term even being used specifically in one of our class lectures, a challenge directed towards the class of 2014. This was a call to greatness.

During my freshman year I did exactly that: started out strong in preparation for my future. My accomplishments were praised, and I was encouraged to continue to set the bar for those who would follow. I was already in a sense setting the example for others, and changing the world in a miniscule way.  However, no matter how well I did, there was always room for improvement. There were always AP classes to be taken, extracurriculars to be attempted, and higher heights to be reached.  One thing that surprised me was that the staff encouraged me to try my best, but to also make time for things that mattered most in my life: family, friends, and my relationship with God.

During my time at Allendale High School, I have learned through the words of staff members and the example they have set for me that I am a future world changer. This is a high calling, but one that is very achievable through preparation. At this school, I have been pushed to limits I believe have equipped me for whatever lies before me. I am excited not only to see a change in this world but, more importantly, to BE the change in this world.

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The Most Important Lesson I Learned at APS, by Brandon Potgeter

Potgeter, BrandonAt Allendale High School, I learned a few things I will carry with me for the rest of my life. These lessons included how to be a leader and how to change the culture of a sport.

I did not take on a leadership role on our bowling team by choice, but it slowly came to me because when all of the seniors graduated my sophomore year, I ended up being the oldest person on the team as a junior. Taking over the leadership role of the bowling team forced me to convince people that in order to succeed, the team’s mentality had to change.

Coming into the 2013 – 2014 school year, we knew that we had a chance at making this change in our team’s mentality by first proving our team could be competitive. Instead of talking to people and trying to convince them that our team could make it to state, we instead decided to lead by example and slowly plant seeds in everyone’s minds that we could make a run at state qualification. We made a couple of changes, including having some practices where we would only shoot corner pins (7 and 10 pins). By improving our spare games, the team got a lot better, and the rest of the team’s confidence slowly began to build.  Once we won our first couple matches, we realized that we could actually do something that would be able to change the culture of our bowling program.

By becoming a leader for the bowling team, I had to take on something that I was not normally used to doing. Allendale High School has helped me learn to become more comfortable with leadership roles and with how to change people’s mentality about different things.

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The Most Important Lesson I Learned at APS, by Courtlyn Nyenhuis

Nyenhuis, CourtlynSchool teaches several important concepts to its students. The concepts do not even have to be about the subjects taught. The most important lesson I learned from my years at Allendale High School is how to overcome and learn from adversity. Knowing how to overcome adversity is important because I’m going to face adversity for the rest of my life. No matter how good my life looks to others, I still had to overcome things to get here.

During my high school career, I have had to overcome several obstacles of adversity, ranging from not understanding a math problem to the challenges of two Advanced Placement courses, to completing a high level Spanish course while playing a sport. For example, in all my math classes, there was at least one question (probably more than that) that I did not know how to solve. After thinking about it, and conversing with several of my classmates, I could finally reach the right answer. After figuring out one problem, I realized that I could solve almost any other problem. I learned from working hard to overcome.

In all four years of high school, I participated in a sport. Juggling  practice and games and my school work was a struggle. There was so much to do and not a lot of time to do it. Somehow I managed to do well with my sports and maintain my 4.0 GPA. I also faced adversity within my sports. There were always people I did not get along with. We did not always have a winning team. But we overcame and always made the best of what we had.

Learning how to overcome and learn from adversity was one of the most important things I learned at Allendale. This is a skill I will need my whole life. I know I’m going to face adversity sometime in the future. It is probably going to be situations that will be more difficult than not knowing how to do a math problem or struggling to balance school and sports. Knowing that I am able to overcome adversity,  however, will make this less of a struggle.

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The Most Important Lesson I Learned at APS, by Taylor LaHaie

LaHaie, TaylorAugust 21, 2010, my fifteenth birthday, was the day I arrived in Allendale, Michigan. It wasn’t long before I found myself in a group of friends, joined the football team, and began my freshman year of high school.

The first day I walked through the doors at Allendale, I shook hands with a great leader, a man of character, and a man of principle: our high school principal Mr. Remenap. Although at the time I may not have realized it, I wanted to become a man like him someday, yet somehow at the time as a freshman, I did not feel able or qualified to do so.

For the next two years of high school, I pursued many things: academic success, friendships, jobs, and sports, to name a few. During my sophomore year, I became a part of Coach Brose’s leadership class. Here I began to understand certain character traits that enable a great leader.

At the beginning of my senior year, I recalled what had inspired me so on that first day of school at Allendale. I reconsidered all I had learned from Mr. Remenap’s example and Coach Brose’s class. In AP English, I decided to write my capstone paper on the topic of great leadership. After much research and much thought, I concluded that leadership is less about a position of power, authority, or management, and more about a person’s character and example being a positive influence on others, encouraging them to achieve greatness. I learned that leadership is vital to society and that leadership is called out of all of us in various areas of our lives.

Of the many things I learned at Allendale High School over the past four years, lessons about leadership were the most important.

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The Most Important Lesson I Learned at APS, by Riley Todd

AHS14Allendale Public Schools are a place of experience, instruction, and benevolence. Throughout the fifteen years I’ve spent schooling in the Allendale community, I can confidently announce that the most important lesson I’ve learned is to be respectful. But not only was the lesson to be kind and respectful to my teachers, but to everyone that I encounter.

Whenever a substitute teacher comes into Allendale Public School, we as students are always told to make a good impression on the guest. We are told that we are symbols of Allendale and that good impressions are of the upmost importance, which is true. The next day when the regular teacher returns and reads an excellent report on our behavior, we feel triumphant that students were able to make such an impressive representation of the Allendale community. Giving respect to everyone I encounter gives me a credibility that cannot be undermined. Being kind to someone I may not know well demonstrates maturity on all levels. Because of the encouragement Allendale’s staff, we are known as one of the most respectfully kind schools in the West Michigan area.

This specific lesson that has been taught to us students is not only useable for school, but also for life outside of a school atmosphere. Being respectful will get me to where I want to be in life. What goes along with being respectful is being kind, supportive, and helpful. These qualities will work as attributes when finding a job, talking to a superior, or volunteering. Respect lets someone else know that you are genuinely a good person.

Showing respect is the most important lesson I will take from my education from Allendale Public Schools. Respect works not only in a classroom, but in life in general. When I am kind, supportive, and helpful to others I show that I am a great person with great attributes. Respect is what attracts people, what makes people enjoy being around another person. Allendale has implanted this genuine quality into my character, and I will use it throughout my life in school and thereafter.

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The Most Important Lesson I Learned at AHS, by Jayce Ellens

AHS14Of all the things I have learned at Allendale High School, one stands out from the rest. This is not something physical, not something factual, but something of character. The most important lesson I have learned at Allendale High School is friendship. Not just how to be a friend, or how to make friends, or what the true meaning of friendship is, but the truth that friends change and friends grow.

This lesson was especially evident to me because I transferred into the Allendale Public School system from a Christian school where we had just thirty students in our entire class. As a transfer student, I knew less than a dozen people at Allendale High School going into my freshman year. I grew distant from some of my friends who had been with me for years, but, this was by no means a bad thing. I made many new friends, some of whom I may be friends with for years to come. We may grow old together; we may have to go to one another’s funerals. Most of my current friends, however, will leave my life after we graduate, and we may only keep in contact through Facebook, if at all. Some I may see at our class reunion, where we will reminisce about the golden days of youth. And then I may very well never see them again.

The true lesson is this: though friends change and friends grow, I will always have friends. I will lose some on the long road of life: some to distance, others to death. And I will also gain many friends in the future, even though I will lose some of those, too. I have learned, after all, that friendship is not always forever, but forever, we will have friends.

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The Most Important Lesson I Learned at AHS, by Ally Dora

AHS14I have spent thirteen years in school, all in the Allendale Public School system. That is thirteen years of my life with the same people, sometimes adding new faces and sometimes letting go of others. I still remember Mrs. Cook in the first grade and Mrs. Rybinski in third grade. I still remember in the sixth grade doing the R.A.I.L. project with Mr. Piccard, who also helped me with math and science for years. But what was the most important lesson I learned at Allendale? The teachers may think that we need to remember Soh Cah Toa or maybe even needing to know the structure of a plant cell versus animal cell. to be successful in life. (For all of those who don’t know, the plant cell is larger, they have chloroplasts, and they also have a cell wall.) Maybe it was how to sit in a class and not fall asleep. But I really do think that the most important thing I learned at Allendale Public Schools is how to accept others, with all of their flaws.

What about time management? I had to learn that on my own when I started working at McDonalds. I had to balance school, work, homework, and also my family. Talk about time crunch. But if it wasn’t for all of the diverse people at Allendale I don’t think I would have been able to learn to get along with half the people there. But I do, and I love them all. The most important thing I learned at Allendale Public Schools is how to accept others with all of their flaws.

Being in a school with so many different types of people, you really start accepting others’ differences. Allendale is such a small community, you really have no choice but to accept them. I have had to learn to accept people whose views are different from mine about feminism, about different types of religions, and about even clothing choices. When we have our Harkness Table discussions in Mrs. Karnes’ class, I learned to sometimes keep my mouth shut because others had a different opinion, but at other times I would argue back. That’s the fun part of AP English. Sometimes I’d sit next to the a new guy in math. And that awkwardness stays there for a couple weeks until we’d get to know each other. If someone is wearing something I don’t like, like all black, I learned to kick my behind and not say a word. I learned to accept and move on. I really do think that the most important thing I learned at Allendale Public Schools is how to accept others with all of their flaws.

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