by STEVE LEWIS
Assistant Principal, Rockford High School
As a community, we are aware of the accomplishments of our students in the academic arena with nearly half of our students achieving honor roll status. While many of the students excel in the classroom, they also carry their talents into the sports arena, winning many conference and state championships. Our band and choir also shine in state competitions as well. Last month our theatre students performed “Beauty and the Beast” that was on the level of a Broadway musical.
Perhaps the most compelling attribute of our students is what they do beyond the walls of Rockford High School (RHS). Our students’ compassion for others and the student service they do is simply remarkable. The following letter was written to RHS staff from one of their colleagues about student service.
I wanted to take a moment to tell you about an incredible demonstration by some of our students last night in Grand Rapids. Fifteen RHS students, some of them Youth Initiative members, some from my AP English classes and some from Mitch Gathercole’s Senior Composition classes, helped my wife Tammi and me make and serve a “Love Feast” in inner-city Grand Rapids last night. The students made spaghetti with meat and marinara sauce, Caesar salad, fruit salad and dessert (12 students made brownies and cakes) and served the meal to unemployed, indigent and homeless people.
I can’t tell you how proud I was of our students’ work ethic, creative problem-solving, and servant hearts. We were told to prepare a meal for 75-100 people and 140 showed up to eat and 20 asked for food to go for their friends and family that could not come. The students responded to each challenge with creativity and positive attitudes. Students had to serve each person, but also meet various and sometimes strange requests of some rude, caustic and demanding people. They illustrated agape love in every action whether cooking, serving or cleaning up.
During the evening, a few men stumbled into the hall obviously intoxicated, but hungry just the same. They were loud and boisterous, but our students were not intimidated or rude. They met their needs in the same fashion as any of the others. In another instance, a man slipped and spilled several plates of spaghetti he had planned to take to his homeless friends who could not come. Watching this food, which was of such great importance to him, spill on the floor distressed him greatly, but three of our students worked together to calm him down, clean up the spilled food, and replenish his supply.
During the night, one parent who had come with her daughter asked me, “Do you ever get nervous about the students doing this? I mean some of these people are a little aggressive and are following the kids around demanding more food and making strange requests.” I told her that I had prepared our students to serve an eclectic group of people of various races, cultures, ages and social levels, and that I had complete confidence that they would respond with professionalism and in humble servant-hood. She agreed that they were doing an exceptional job.
Toni, Jen Brooke and Char who run this event every week told me they were impressed at how our kids responded to the demands of such a large crowd and how they valued their responses to the night’s challenges, as well as their ability to serve and connect socially to the adults and children that attended the “Love Feast.”
We are truly blessed to work with these students. We have the opportunity to challenge them, guide them and watch them grow each day. Some days the students may frustrate us in the classroom, and we seldom get to see the pruning that is done each day come to fruition. However, I know that our students will use their gifts and talents to enrich others’ lives and to solve great problems that our world faces. I saw it, albeit in a small way, last night, and I thought each of you, who have such a large influence on each of them, should know that great things are happening outside RHS as well as within its walls.
I know in this community and country there is concern about our youth today and the direction we are headed. I would say the Rockford community is doing a great job with our youth, and our future is bright.
Thank you to our students for your compassion and student service beyond the walls of RHS and making this a better place to live.