When Robert Browning in 1841 wrote “The year’s at the spring,” I believe the English poet had in mind the week we just experienced. Dew pearled on the hillside and larks in flight thrilled Browning just as sunny skies and breezes wafting softly through the house set my perfect stage for finishing a library book, calling Ingrid to bestow birthday wishes, and preparing to write this column.
To celebrate the arrival of these long-anticipated spring days, I kicked negativism and irony to the curb and reached into my stash of very-nice-occurrences. The mere knowledge – that there are lots of caring people in the world, that nice things DO happen to nice people, that we should revel in positivity wherever we find it – made the past few beautiful days that much lovelier.
For example, friends and former colleagues, Bonnie McGuire and Jane Sidders, recently traveled to the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Bonnie’s kidney donation to Jane’s husband Tom. Although Tom has since passed from this earth, the ladies joined the annual celebration for organ donors, transplant recipients, and their families to “plant” pinwheels – one for each lifesaving procedure since the Center’s first kidney transplant in 1967. Each of this year’s 11,500 ever-spinning pinwheels had one stem supporting eight spokes representing the “power of one HERO to save up to eight lives through organ donation.” There were tears, to be sure – but of the most blessed kind.
Jane, whose daughter played high school volleyball, also mentioned Jonni Parker, standout volleyball player from Miami East who continued her winning ways at Penn State as three-time team captain. In November the Penn State team, hosting Michigan State, played the annual “silent set” in honor of Jonni, who is hearing impaired. For the first nine points, spectators and players used American Sign Language to cheer in silence until the ninth point, Jonni’s number. The family of the elementary and early childhood education major raised their daughter to chase greatness in the face of obstacles. In fact, Jonni’s non-profit organization by that very name, CHASING GREATNESS, supports children suffering hearing loss with funds for hearing devices and the enhancement of life skills. Bonnie, coincidentally related to Jonni, provided an update over the weekend. Come fall, the Penn State grad will be teaching first grade at Northwestern, perhaps helping a volleyball team somewhere, and continuing her non-profit work. The fans in Rec Hall will surely miss Jonni, but Miss Parker’s classroom kiddies will undoubtedly love her to pieces!
Also at Miami East, on Friday, April 1, Jennifer Godsey was summoned to the high school – much as she had been summoned to Qatar for the following Monday. The Air Force Senior Master Sergeant lamented the timing of her deployment; she would be missing her daughter Taylor’s prom and graduation. To her astonishment, Jennifer found the gym filled with the entire student body awaiting Taylor’s commencement ceremony. The only member of the Class of 2022 in her cap and gown that day, she received her diploma, applause – and a big hug from Mom. Taylor described herself as “speechless” for the “monumental” event. As for Jennifer, the teary-eyed mother thanked Miami East schools for the “priceless gift” that “lightened her heart.” A special graduation never to be forgotten…
The achievements of the offspring of former students have also gladdened my heart. Former student Susan Traylor, now proud grandmother, shared a press release announcing that the A.B. Graham Ohio Hi-Point Middle School General Livestock Judging Team had beat out 38 other teams in the middle school state competition. Of the 123 students participating, GMS team members included Madi Dunham, Shannon Stahler, Payton Maurice, Maci Runkle, Grace Bowers, and Jack Traylor – who had the highest individual score in the state. Having had his father Steve and uncles in class and having taught at GHS with his mother Carrie, I was able to catch up with the top scorer by phone – between baseball practice and departure to Washington, D.C. for the eighth-grade trip. Jack explained the team – advised by GHS alum Ali Peterson – judged cattle, sheep, pigs, and goats. He mentioned the difficulty of rounding up multiple examples of so many different animals, but judging at other contests helped team members sharpen their skills. Jack also supplemented his preparation with online practice. Congratulations to the entire crew!
Former student Cindi Caudill Buell and former colleague Jeff Buell recently and proudly announced that their daughter Bailey will serve as Field Commander of Ohio University’s Marching 110. The senior interior architecture major is just the second coed to hold that position. Bailey has excelled in music, marching, and dedication during her entire time as a Bobcat there in Athens. Her junior position as Dance Commander led the OU music faculty to tap her for the top leadership spot – also with the blessing of her fellow bandsmen!
Tiny children of another former student recently appeared in a downright adorable Facebook photograph. Larkin and Lettie, daughters of Darby Flanigan Grove, often “help” Mommy bake goodies for her Locust Grove Company. And they spend lots of time outside with dad Nathan. This particular picture-of-pictures
shows the sisters peering curiously through a fence at two sheep who are peering back just as curiously. My cute-o-meter is still buzzing!
So, Mr. Browning, thank you for the first line of your poem and the last one, too: “All’s right with world!”