Parkway North High School Principal Jenny Marquart shared this story as part of her November e-news bulletin to district patrons.
Running in the New York City Marathon has been one of my goals since I ran my first marathon eight years ago. For years I have heard conversations among other runners as they described the crowds and the route and how the whole city encourages the marathoners as they run through every borough of New York.
I am not a fast runner so if I were going to be selected to run in the New York City Marathon, it would have to be through the lottery system they use. You can imagine my excitement last spring when I got word that I was selected—I would be running in the New York City Marathon on November 4, 2012!
The coordination of a race involving nearly 50,000 runners is mind-boggling. In addition to the physical training one does for a marathon, logistics for the NYC Marathon also included, finding a hotel convenient to both the starting line and the finish line; figuring out the transportation route to the start line on Staten Island; deciding what to wear as I waited at the start line for hours while all the runners gathered; and packing just enough food and water to be properly nourished for the start of the run.
There was also the planning of what site seeing I would do while in New York City. As you can imagine, I had spent a great deal of time and energy preparing for this once-in-a-lifetime event.
After each detail was set, it seemed I was one step closer to reaching this goal. As the forecast for Hurricane Sandy became more real, my dreams faded; in the end, the marathon was cancelled and everything I had planned changed in an instant.
Sometimes it takes totally unexpected situations for us to see the things for which we should be thankful. My dream of running in the marathon had been crushed but seeing the residents of the New York and New Jersey area lose their homes, businesses, and in some cases, their loved ones, reminded me that all I lost was an opportunity.
People who are victims of unexpected loss experience a variety of emotions and most of us are very understanding of their anger, bitterness, sadness, etc. It is interesting to me how many people in these situations do not allow themselves to succumb to these emotions and cope with their loss in a much more positive and healthy manner. How does that happen? Why does it happen with some people and not others?
Throughout high school there will be courses and assignments that present challenges to our students. There will be times in their lives when they don’t get hired for a job or when their position is completely eliminated. Relationships and friendships won’t be perfect and dreams will seem to be shattered.
It is important to learn how to deal with disappointment and loss in a healthy way. We become stronger each time we have to overcome or work through an unexpected situation.
Having the ability to persist through difficult situations and problem solve when things don’t go as planned are skills that are not easy to learn. Often they are not learned because we spend so much time protecting others from situations that would allow them to practice these skills.
It is hard to allow people we care about to face disappointment or difficult situations; yet, facing those situations is exactly how one learns the important skills necessary to make it through in a healthy way. Life doesn’t always go as planned. Teaching young people to be resilient and persist through tough times is one of the most important things we can do.
During this season of giving thanks, I hope you will spend time with those you love and take time to tell them you are grateful to have them in your life.
My family will be gathering soon to celebrate my dad’s 80th birthday. My dad wants the party to be a Thanksgiving Party because he is so grateful for the long life he’s had.
I’ve learned many things from my dad; being resilient and working through tough times are among the most important things he has taught me.
Thank you for giving us the privilege of spending every day with your children—it is truly an honor for which I am extremely grateful.
Principal, Parkway North High School