'Tis the Season of Giving

'Tis the Season of Giving
Posted on 01/06/2023
National junior honors society students at Moreland Ridge Middle School pack donations for foster teens at Drumm Farm


The holiday season is the perfect time for giving. Whether you are shopping for your family members and loved ones or giving food to those less fortunate, giving fills the heart and has a lasting impact.

Our church, like many others, has a giving tree where families shop for Christmas gifts for those in need. My three-year-old is now at the age where his independence has blossomed, and he tries to help in any way possible. When I explained what the giving tree was, he quickly reached out his hand and began tearing off gift tag after gift tag. He would have continued until there were no items left, so I had to stop him to explain that others wanted to give as well. Soon after, we purchased the items and it felt great to help others in this simple way.

My son’s eagerness to help others is a great reminder of how important it is to make the time to give back whenever possible. Without simple acts of kindness, some members of our community would be unable to flourish. With regard to education, having a deeply involved school community goes a long way in motivating our children to serve others. Community involvement in schools greatly benefit students, parents, staff members, and citizens. Research shows that when families and community members partner with schools, students gain valuable skills, develop a sense of responsibility and compassion, while feeling more connected to their school and community.

As a fourth grade teacher for the past 10 years, I witness the world through the eyes of our youth on a daily basis. The most beautiful part is that kids naturally see the good in things and dream big. Any time there’s a service project, kids are eager to contribute as much as possible. Every December, my school, Sunny Pointe Elementary, hosts a Tree of Warmth drive where students bring in coats, hats, and gloves in preparation for the winter. These items are given to families in need. Before winter break arrives, the tree is completely covered and the boxes underneath are filled to the brim due to the giving nature of our children. We can all learn a thing or two from our children and how eager they are to serve others.

If you’re looking for ways to give back, the BSSD has a multitude of opportunities. You can assist in the classroom by becoming a much-needed substitute teacher or a Difference Maker, where you read and build connections with students, one-on-one. Parents can also become active members of PTA/PTSA, where they create opportunities for schools and families to connect. I’ve seen firsthand how happy and proud it makes students to see their families and role models donating their time and energy to make schools a better place. When we donate our time or talents through volunteer work, we also benefit through a sense of accomplishment and belonging.

Just as the holidays come and pass too quickly, they also bring a new year and opportunity for reflection and growth. During this time, I encourage each of you to reflect on your involvement and how you can share more of your time and talents with our BSSD family. By paving the way through volunteer work and community support, we are nurturing a future filled with kind and generous hearts. I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday season surrounded by your families and loved ones.

Blue Springs South High School has once again made an impact on the national level. Members of the Jaguars Air Force Junior ROTC recently competed at the All-Service Raider Nationals competition in Molena, Georgia, finishing second in the nation.

The nationals consisted of the top Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine JROTC units in the country competing in four events: the 5K mountain run, raider gauntlet obstacle course, one-rope bridge construction and transport, and the physical team test.

This marks the third time in four years South has competed at Nationals. In 2018, the team finished as National runner-up in the Male Division; in 2019, South finished 5th in the nation in the Male division.

This season, Blue Springs South fielded a team in the Mixed category. The Jaguars’ team was comprised of both boys and girls, with each event requiring six males and four females to compete. Team members were Gabby Hampton, Danny Hampton, Kellen Heinzman, Christopher Hensley, Claire Hicks, Emerson Jenkins, Madeline Jones, Shawn Jordan, Joey Lorek, Lexi Mattson, Cole Nichols, Seth Nunez, Austin Palmer, and Joe Rodgers.

The team tied for the most points scored, but finished second overall due to tiebreakers.

Heinzman, a Cadet Colonel, said the team adapted well to each challenge and relied on teamwork and strategy to succeed.

“I believe the toughest event for the team was the Raider Gauntlet obstacle course,” he said. “This consisted of jumping through a tire, climbing an eight-foot wall, and low crawling through small drainage pipes, all while carrying rucksacks and ammo boxes. The toughest part was getting over the eight-foot wall. Although it was a struggle, the team adapted and figured out the best way to safely get everyone up and over the wall quickly.”

Cadet Senior Master Sergeant Lorek felt Nationals required an even greater level of focus and attention than any other competition.

It takes a lot of teamwork and trust in each other to compete at Nationals,” he said. “When we compete, we all need to know our roles as well as what other people on the team will be doing otherwise, a few seconds lost could mean the difference between finishing first or fifth.”

Heinzman said teamwork above all else was the reason for the team finishing so well.

“The Nationals rosters are only comprised of 16 athletes, so that is all we could put on the team,” he said. “Because it was only us, however, we were able to perform quickly and effectively. I also think the limited numbers really helped boost our morale. The 16 of us are very close and I think that it was just an amazing experience to go compete with the people who are like family to you.”

The Raiders National team dedicated its season to Perry Hunt, former team commander who passed away last year.

“We didn’t go to nationals last year due to COVID-19, so we made sure to make this year count,” Lorek said. “We dedicated our season to Perry Hunt, who was our Raider Commander two years ago when we got 5th in the nation. We did the best that we could in honor of him.”