20 May 2009

Awards Night - comments from the peanut gallery

What a bittersweet year this has been. From this season’s start at last year’s Awards Night, I knew that this team would do fine, better than fine, as it turns out. I must admit that I was somewhat apprehensive at the beginning of this year, as I am at the beginning of every year. At the end of each year, when seniors depart for greener pastures, I feel a force pulling on me, trying to separate me from this team, whispering to me, saying “you can’t top this year, Pal; walk away now, it can't get better than this.”

And like every year before, and most likely every year from now on, there’s a greater force pulling me back to experience another year of successes, failures, triumphs, tribulations and Frog moments. It has become somewhat of a game for me, waiting for the new season to see who steps up to the challenges left behind by the exiting seniors and changing roles each of you must face.

Seniors, I have no doubt that someday I will read about something wonderful that you are a part of, something that you will be doing that will be life-changing. Each of you are in control of your own destiny and with a little bit of good fortune, some perseverance and hard work, you each will be successful in whatever careers you choose. On behalf of the other mentors of Team 166, we wish you the best in the years to come; we challenge you also to examine everything that has been afforded you by the FIRST program and find a way to give a little back.

Juniors, I challenge you to think back to when you were told that you were the future of Team 166. That time has come and you will be charged with taking it in a direction of your own, new horizons to explore, but do so while remembering this team's history. Don't be sheepish about thinking "out of the box."

Sophomores, you, too, will be challenged. With a year of FIRST behind you, there are limitless possibilities that will open up to you on this team. Your voices need to be heard, and your ideas shared. This coming season will help define your role on the team; you have the opportunity to explore new areas of interest, if you choose to.

Mentors, it has been a privilege working with you, sharing experiences and learning new things from you. It’s been another banner year with returning mentors and new folks turning up to find out just how much fun working with Team 166 can be. I’m almost certain that this amount of fun is illegal somewhere. Each of you brings your life’s experience to the table and willingly share it with everyone.

Looking back and reflecting on what we've accomplished, I have to say that much of that was a result of Mr. and Mrs. Reich's efforts with this team. Mrs. Reich has shown a level of commitment to this team's student membership that goes above and beyond "the call of duty." She has done more for this team than was visible to most; her attention to the needs of the students was unsurpassed, she went to bat for you all time and again.

Mr. Reich, for a mentor who, three years ago, was involuntarily volunteered, you turned out to be much too easy a mark; your commitment to this team, your passion for helping T166 succeed is second to none.

You both will be missed; gone, but certainly not forgotten. You have both made indelible marks on this team and have left a little of yourselves woven into its fabric.

This coming year will be as challenging as any have been, and just as different. Each year new members arrive from the middle school, as wide-eyed and excited as each of you were when you signed up. One of the hallmarks of Team 166 is how openly you welcome new members; you take the time to integrate them into the team's spirit and infect them with your enthusiasm and passion. Just as you were once told about being the team's future, you will see that in the new members.

As far as my continued involvement with the team, I alluded to that earlier and to make my intentions clearer, how about "I'll be back." There are many reasons for my decision, all of which can be found on the team roster. However, there's an additional reason, Mrs. P being the team's adult adviser working alongside Terianne McKeon. We've got a winning team no matter which way you look at it.