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Holocaust art contest

Nearly 600 students in Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska put together inspiring work at this year’s Holocaust Center for Humanity (HCH) contest. Out of all those entries, four Nikola Tesla STEM High School students placed in the top three. This year’s “Celebrating Life: 2022 Holocaust Writing, Art, and Film Contest,” put on by HCH, challenges students to explore the history and stories of the Holocaust. 

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    Superintendent Message - June 2022

    Dr. Jon Holmen

    It’s hard to believe the end of the 2021-22 school year is here. I wanted to share my letter to the graduating class of 2022. Congratulations, graduates!

    To the Graduating Class of 2022, 

    Modern day society has attempted to mitigate the hard things in life. Uber Eats has almost fixed the challenge of deciding whether to go out or eat in. Modern technology on cars no longer requires an acute sense of your blind spot because your car is either flashing, beeping, or driving for you. And of course, surfing the internet has never been simpler, with cookies being accumulated with every click of the mouse (or touch of the screen), your experience is exactly what you wanted, more batman cat videos. 

    I say these things lightly but what I know is that the graduating class of 2022 has been through a period of time where no one could put bumpers up for you, no one could guard you against the difficulty, and no one could make the struggle go away. You had to dig deep and persevere to accomplish this milestone. You lived most of your high school career with the global pandemic impacting your daily lives. This experience was, at times, not pleasant. High School is about learning to be yourself, discovering what you love in life, and thinking about what you want to accomplish and yes, high school is about learning. I know many of you found yourselves experiencing dark times over the past few years as you desired a more typical experience, to be with your peers, and not have a constant nagging wonder about health and safety. 

    Well, you made it through, and even more, you are stronger for having made it through. Whenever I think of hard things, I often have a mental picture of the military training exercise where the trainees are required to crawl through the mud on their stomachs, head low because there is barbed wire about two feet off the ground which they are crawling under.  It is important to know that the struggle isn’t the journey, it just makes the journey more meaningful and strengthens your resolve in life. But the images of the struggle can always remind you that: 

    1. You can do hard things 
    2. You can persevere and accomplish your goals 
    3. You had people along the way that helped you 

    Let’s shift our focus to what lies ahead for you. Our ultimate goal is to prepare students for their next steps in life. Actually, what I want more than anything is for you to feel empowered to make decisions for your life. I purposefully use the plural, decisions, because that leads me to a different aspect of being prepared for life. Be prepared to change your mind, reassess things, make a different decision or completely change course. Again, it doesn’t mean a struggle makes something the wrong decision which is why you need to know what your value, what your goals are, and ultimately, what you want to accomplish. But if you reassess and change your goals, you may also need to change some things in life and that is ok. 

    Whatever you do and wherever you go, I promise you will need to interact with humans. Humans that think differently than you, look differently than you, had different family experiences than you, and are just different than you. Be ok with the differences between you and others. Allow them space to share their experiences with you because you never know when you will gain a perspective on life that you otherwise would not have. I also know that you need to be intentional about taking care of yourself each and every day if you want to thrive.

    1. Smile a lot – the research behind smiling, laughing and being happy is clear that it has significant benefits for our well-being. 
    2. Be kind to those around you – showing grace and caring for others makes you happier and a better person. 
    3. Be determined – know who you are and what you want and figure out your path to achieve your goals.  
    4. Choose positivity – there is so much negativity that surrounds us, we get to choose how we act, behave, and the mindset that we approach life. 
    5. Care for yourself – take time to do the things that allow your mind and body to be at their best. 

    I am so proud of what you have accomplished and know you each will do great things in life. There are so many people that were part of your journey, and I can tell you, that each of these people is on your team and cheering for you.   

    I leave you with words of encouragement from the great orator, Winnie the Pooh: 

    You are braver than you believe,
    Stronger than you seem,
    Smarter than you think,
    And loved more than you will ever know.

    Congratulations Class of 2022 – you are graduates of the Lake Washington School District.  

    Go forth and be amazing! 

    Respectfully,

    Jon Holmen signature

     

     

    Dr. Jon Holmen, Superintendent
    Lake Washington School District