Dr. Paul Shand, head of the physics department at UNI, visited with Prairie High School students during Enrichment time. He shared information about their physics program and his research with magnets at very low temperatures. He also brought a former Prairie student who is part of his research team.



Character matters.

Consider the last time you attended a sporting event or a fine arts program here. If you are like me, you felt proud of the team's efforts and impressed with the latest performance. Maybe the team lost - but you cheered them on and believed in them anyway.

How do I know? Because the officials and opposing fans noticed you. Congratulations, because this fall Prairie was honored with an award that trumps all others: the MVC Conference 2014 Fall Sportsmanship Champions.

That means YOU made a difference.

Think about what it's like to be an official for a high school sport. You stand out in the rain or the wind or the sun, you make calls to keep the game as fair as you can, and you frequently have to deal with unhappy fans, coaches, and players. How might it feel to be out there because you love the sport, only to have fans or coaches or players screaming insults at you every time a play doesn't go their way? I can guarantee that the official is not there because of massive amounts of money, and she or he is using a specific skill set to keep the event fair and safe. And sometimes they make mistakes. Who wouldn't?

This year, those officials voted Prairie with the best sportsmanship - which means they felt safe, they heard you cheer instead of jeer, they noticed the pride you took in your team whether they won or lost, and they noticed how much your Prairie Pride reigned.

This has been a long journey for us. A number of years ago, the coaches and I began a program to promote a Championship Community. Our purpose was to help ALL of the people in the district - parents, athletes, fans, coaches, district patrons - to grow and improve the environment for k-12 school activities. We want all students to get involved in activities. We want all of you to be champions in life, not just in wins and losses, but in living a positive, productive life, performing with class and pride.

The community makes a difference, and you create competitive and yet caring environments. Words and actions create the environment. How we conduct ourselves in adversity and in triumph reflect what we value. And what we value is to serve others above self. It's about team. It's about community. It's about respect for opponents.

You answered the call.

While our Fall athletes ran, golfed, swam, played football and volleyball, and cheered, you supported them. You cheered them on. When a student didn't feel like running to the finish line, the team rallied around her and cheered her on to keep her going. When the team won or lost, you congratulated the athletes for the effort and for the pride they brought. The athletes performed and the crowds cheered and supported them, and at the end of the day, you all walked away from the events as champions.

And that's what education and student-athletes are all about. It's about the kind of community we share. Congratulations to all of the athletes, coaches, and fans for representing our district so well.

It doesn't end here, though.

This is the beginning. When you are sitting in the stands and feel frustrated with a call, think about whether the moment in time will leave a positive lasting legacy. If you continue to cheer and support, and if you realize that the officials are doing the best they can, you can impact lives.

YOU are the difference.

Inside the district, parents, students, and staff know that what we have here is special. We are a community of people who learn and grow together. How do outsiders feel when they think of College Community? Is this the place where competition is fierce, but you know the opposing team will receive respect? Will fans want to come to Prairie to see what makes this the best place to be?

Every student performing is someone's loved child. We all want to see our kids win - but at the end of the day, one team will win and the other will lose. At the end of the race, one finishes first while the others finish somewhere behind them.

I hope we will continue to honor and cheer and value every individual out there, whether it's the athlete, the coach, the official, the opposing fans, or the person sitting next to us. Let's win that sportsmanship contest every time - show what winning is really about. Our next chance to win it is during the Winter sports season. How will you contribute?

At the end of the day, it's about character.

Rocky Bennett
Athletics Director
Prairie High School

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