Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Proper Farewell

Nearly two months ago, I told you about the best teacher I ever had.  Following that post, I had a bit of a panic because my blog was found by someone in my hometown.  He posted it to his Facebook wall and a Facebook group dedicated to Mr. Barnard, and in the next few days alone, nearly 150 new people visited my blog (or so says Google Analytics). Though I never intended for my blog to be widely followed, it seems fitting that it was the post about Mr. Barnard that got me all of the extra attention.

Anyway, tonight was Mr. Barnard's surprise retirement party.  This has been an extremely busy few weeks for me, and I had already made trips home for Easter and Mother's Day.  Going home a third time within a month's time is almost unheard of for me, but there was no way I was going to miss this party.

It was a lovely event hosted at the Country Club by several people from within the community, and it was made possible by generous donations of money, food, and time.

It seems that Mr. Barnard was, in fact, surprised:

There was a short program to kick off the evening.  First, Mr. Barnard opened his mystery gift:

A 55" flat-screen television for his new home.  So much money was donated toward this gift, that they created a fund so that the extra donation money would be given to the high school agriculture education department in his name.

Next, Mr. Barnard was presented with an FFA jacket, signed by everyone who was in attendance that evening.

Finally, he was presented with a scrapbook full of pictures and stories that community members and former students had submitted.

Sarah, one of the key event planners, read a brief summary of Mr. Barnard's career, and also shared with him Legislative Resolution 172, which reads:

Introduced by Carlson, 38.

WHEREAS, Dave Barnard, a teacher at Superior High School, is
retiring after a 33-year teaching career; and

WHEREAS, one of Dave Barnard's many achievements during his long and distinguished teaching career is the improvement that he has brought to the Superior FFA Chapter through his leadership and work as an FFA advisor; and

WHEREAS, when Dave Barnard first came to Superior, the Superior FFA Chapter did not receive much recognition. Through Dave Barnard's hard work and dedication, the Superior FFA Chapter is now one of the most recognized chapters in the state after having earned numerous local, state, and even national awards throughout the years; and

WHEREAS, in recognition of his hard work and dedication, Dave Barnard was named the 2011 Nebraska FFA Advisor of the Year during the 83rd Annual Nebraska FFA Convention held in Lincoln, Nebraska.


1. That the Legislature congratulates Dave Barnard on his retirement and for being named the 2011 Nebraska FFA Advisor of the Year.

2. That a copy of this resolution be sent to Dave Barnard. 

I don't know if our legislature makes a habit of formalizing teacher retirements, but if they don't, I'm glad that they did for Mr. Barnard.

Finally, Mr. Barnard said a few words.  In true, Mr. Barnard fashion, he came up with the perfect words of thanks, gratitude, and reflection.

It was made very clear that the majority of the evening was to be spent sharing stories, conversing, and giving Mr. Barnard a proper farewell.

And that, we did...

Farewell, Mr. Barnard.  You will, indeed, be missed.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Have I ever told you how much I love working with the youth of my church?

If I haven't, I'm surprised.  I first got to know them well when I was asked to help with the Fall Confirmation Retreat, in which the 8th graders and freshmen spend a weekend at Camp Calvin Crest to get to know each other.

I was invited back for the Spring retreat, where the freshmen write their statements of faith, which will be read at their upcoming Confirmation, and where the 8th graders start to develop theirs.

First, there is time alloted for team-building and bonding.

They had to figure out how to climb through a web...

They had to complete a trust fall...

And they had some time to explore.  Here, they ignored the sign that said, "For children 12 years of age and younger."

In the evenings, there were cabin shenanigans.   Like cross-dressing...

And making tampon bouquets to be delivered to the boys' cabin.

Oh, to be 14 again.

These kids had a lot of fun, but when it came down to it, they did some really awesome work.  When it came time to write their faith statements, my pastor led them through various exercises to get them thinking about what to include.  Some parts of it were completed individually, and other parts involved sharing of thoughts and opinions.  I was literally moved to tears as I listened to these kids share their faith journies and experiences.

Although they come from different schools, different socioeconomic backgrounds, and different family types, they are the same in that they are incredibly smart, insightful, reflective, loving, and faithful people.  They love God, and they love each other.  And they aren't afraid of vocalizing that love.

Admittedly, I covet what they have experienced through their Confirmation class.  My experience was much different... lots of memorization and boring curriculum.  Because of what I didn't have, I have thoroughly enjoyed living the experience vicariously through them.  And I am so thankful to have been included, even in a small way, in their faith journey.