Thomas A. Edison High School Newsletter Winter 2010
“Partner with Thomas Edison” Breakfast Inspires Our Community
On November 12, 2009, over 370 guests gathered at the Cascade Crest Banquet Hall in the Oregon Zoo for the Partner with Thomas Edison breakfast. This annual event raises much-needed funds for financial aid, technology, and professional development at Thomas A. Edison High School. The morning raised $194,000 in new pledges and gifts. Thank you to all of our donors for your incredible support. You are helping students obtain the best possible education regardless of their economic circumstances.
After a wonderful welcome from board member Kristin Bryant, director Patrick Maguire shared his own history at Edison. He recognized the many people who are important in our students’ lives, including parents, Edison teachers and board members, and the community, who came together for the breakfast. “With your support, you make it possible for us to do the work we were trained to do,” Mr. Maguire said. He also spoke of the educational journeys of Edison students. “Our students have had to overcome many adversities to find success. For these students, the letters ‘LD’ don’t stand for ‘learning disability’ or even ‘learning difference.’ They stand for ‘lots of determination.’”
Senior Charlie Guinasso described academic and social difficulties that made his school life miserable until he came to Thomas Edison. “I would have never guessed I would go as far as I am right now. In fact, I wouldn’t even have the courage to give this speech without the support I have gotten from my friends, students, and staff at Thomas Edison.” Charlie is now a member of student council. When he graduates this spring, he plans to pursue his dream of becoming a counselor like the Edison counselors who have inspired him.
Junior Amy Galloway was diagnosed with both ADD and dyslexia during her difficult elementary school years. “My fifth grade teacher wouldn’t call on me. I was ignored. When I confronted her about it, she said, ‘You know you’re kind of…’ She ended it there, but I knew she meant that I was stupid.” Amy finally started to receive the support she needed at Gately Academy before coming to Edison for high school. At Edison, she found friends, a spot on student council, and renewed confidence in herself. “When I tell my parents I need to stay home from school, they quickly respond, ‘Do you need to see a doctor?’ because they know I want to be at school. I love this school.”
This year’s alumni speaker, Christopher Toffler, attended Edison from 1999 to 2001. Diagnosed with dyslexia, he struggled through school until he came to Edison. “Every teacher seemed to care about each and every student. They were not just interested in us academically, but also in how we fit in with each other and with society at large. They always seemed to find the good in each of us and reflect it back to us.” Chris graduated from Edison and Jesuit in 2003 with increased confidence and decided to pursue higher education. He earned his bachelor’s degree and currently works for Wells Fargo Bank as a personal banker and advisor. His story shows our current students the kind of future they can make for themselves with the skills they gain at Edison.
Harlan Richards, parent of senior Taylor Richards, told the crowd how Edison has impacted both his son and his entire family. Taylor’s story was similar to both Charlie’s and Amy’s in that he didn’t receive the support he needed in a typical classroom. This had a very negative impact on both his academics and his family life. It wasn’t until Taylor came to Edison that the Richards family started to see a change at home. Thanks to Taylor’s current academic and personal success, they are looking at college options for next year—a possibility they couldn’t even imagine before Taylor’s time at Edison. Mr. Richards emphasized the importance of positive reinforcement. “No matter what the problem, it is somehow given a positive resolution at Edison. Respect is key—self respect and respect for others.”
Thank you also to our parent and student volunteers, as well as our table captains, who helped us fill the room with even more guests than last year. And thank you to everyone who attended the 2009 Partner with Thomas Edison breakfast. We appreciate you getting up so early in the morning in order to support our cause!
Tourette’s Syndrome and Tolerance: Marc Elliot
“My name is Marc Elliot. I have Tourette’s Syndrome. It’s involuntary and I can’t help it. I’m sorry if it bothers you. I promise you that it bothers me more.”
This is how Marc Elliot introduces himself. The twenty-four-year old native of St. Louis has both Tourette’s Syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder. This combination causes him to involuntarily think of and say or do the riskiest thing possible in any given situation. Marc took a year off after graduating to tour the country and speak about tolerance. His “Don’t Judge a Book by Its Noise” presentation has been met with such national acclaim that he has decided to make a career out of public speaking.
On November 6, 2009, Marc visited Thomas Edison High School to talk with our students about tolerance. Marc was aware that two students at our school have been diagnosed with Tourette’s. He tailored his presentation specifically to the Edison audience, saying, “Today is a really neat opportunity because I am speaking to a whole group that is already probably more tolerant than most people.”
Tourette’s Syndrome is a genetic neurological disorder. According to Marc, its causes are unclear; it most likely affects the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain. The result is a buildup of excess energy, and the only way to release that energy is to tic. A tic is a sound or movement produced involuntarily by the body. Marc explained, “Tourette’s is like an itch. You can’t control it. Ticking is my way of scratching an itch. But as soon as I scratch, the itch comes right back.”
Marc’s Tourette’s started when he was five years old. He wasn’t diagnosed until age nine. By middle and high school, he started having much more serious physical and verbal tics. Marc said that Tourette’s manifests differently in every single person. “Only about 10% of people with Tourette’s syndrome say bad words.” Marc’s verbal tics include taboo body parts, curses, and racial and homophobic slurs. He said, “This is by far the worst part of my Tourette’s Syndrome. I say things that I would never say, and they are things that I don’t mean.”
Due to Marc’s involuntary verbal and physical outbursts, his day-to-day life is filled with challenges. Something as simple as going out for a burger can be turned into an ordeal. One day when Marc was at Wendy’s, he noticed the woman behind the register staring at him because of his tics. He told her about his Tourette’s. She proceeded to make an announcement to everyone within earshot: “Don’t worry. He’s retarded.”
Marc said, “The way I have learned about tolerance is by being in so many intolerant situations. A person is usually intolerant when he or she is making many assumptions about someone else and turning those assumptions into actions.”
At age twenty-four, Marc is a polished public speaker. Even so, he continued to tic throughout his presentation to our students, involuntarily snapping his jaw shut. He told them that there is no cure for Tourette’s, but he has tried many different treatments: hypnosis, medications, yoga, neurobiofeedback, Botox injections, and diets.
Marc said that about 60-70% of people grow out of Tourette’s. Maybe that will happen for him at some point, too. Whether it does or not, he is thrilled to have the opportunity to talk with people all across the country, educating them about both Tourette’s and tolerance. As he told our students: “The key step to becoming a more tolerant person is to recognize that we make assumptions about people. Don’t turn your assumptions into actions. Live and let live.”
Please visit Marc’s website at http://www.marcspeaks.com to watch videos of Marc speaking and learn more.
When our students achieve success, we feel successful whether we are educators or parents. Our parents, board, staff, and supporters all play a role in helping our students in their maturation process. With that in mind, I like “blowing their horn” as often as possible for the sake of the entire Edison community.
Recently, I attended a ceremony in which two young men from Thomas Edison became Eagle Scouts, a remarkable achievement indeed in this age of easy electronic escapism. Matt Lenzen ’09 and Greg Stachlowski ’10 both received the highest honor that the Scouts can bestow on young men. Joey McCoy ’10 recently earned the rank of Eagle Scout, too, so I hope to have the pleasure of attending another ceremony very soon!
Our Thomas Edison community shares in the glory of all our students’ honors and accomplishments. Alex Hess ’10 received the 2009 “18 Under 18” award from JVibe for his outstanding contributions to the Oregon Jewish Community Youth Foundation. Ari Smith-Korn and John Bergman were commended by their employer, Northwest Youth Corps, for their work on building bridges, restoring habitats, and maintaining trails. These awards and accolades are very commendable, if I do say so myself.
I continue to be inspired by our kids who pursue their passions and push themselves to achieve their goals. Our eight Edison students who played for the Jesuit football team showed incredible strength and dedication throughout the season. The three varsity players Richard McDonough ’10, William Clark ’10, and Brandon Partee ’11 took away two special memories from the season: playing the number two team in the nation at Qwest Field, home of the Seahawks, and playing in the state championship at Resers Stadium. I’m glad that they had these unique opportunities during high school.
The beautiful music being made by the Jesuit choir has been sounding even sweeter with the contributions of Edison students Hannah Robbins ’13, Chris Gadowski ’12, Matt Dietrich ’13, Katie Gregg ’10, and Hans Weih ’12. I would like to offer special congratulations to Hans, who was one of a select few chosen to participate in the Oregon All-State Honor Choir. After three days of intense rehearsals, this group put on an amazing concert at the Hult Center in Eugene for an audience of over 1,000 people!
Some late-breaking news that I am happy to share with you: Jordan Britton ’13 has been selected to represent Washington and Oregon as our Youth Ambassador at the Tourette Syndrome Association’s National Conference in Washington, DC. He will be addressing members of Congress and helping to raise awareness of the effects of TS. We are very proud of this young man and his leadership abilities.
There are many other students who have achieved success—many on a daily basis—in fact, too many to mention. For some, their success might be social; for others, academic; for others, all of the above. The number of students on Honor Roll (3.0 or better) and Principal’s Honor Roll (3.5 or better) continues to increase even as we challenge students with an increasingly rigorous curriculum to get them ready for the real world. I hope they realize that one person’s success is not based on that single person’s work, but on the work of many people. This holds true whether you’re in business or in education. It’s truly a team effort.
Food Drive Raises 2,604 Cans for the Oregon Food Bank
Bridget Connolly, Edison Faculty
This year’s food drive for the Oregon Food Bank ran from November 30 to December 18. We kicked off with “Double Day” on Friday, November 20: the members of Student Council contributed cans to match any donations made that day. Upon returning from the Thanksgiving holiday, students learned of the incentives they would receive for various totals. These ranged from five extra minutes at break when the total reached 150 cans to Mr. Maguire dying his hair green if we reached 4,500 cans.
Some of the incentives we earned this year included relaxing the dress code for a day so everyone could wear sweats and flip-flops, Ms. Robinson styling her hair into an afro, and Student Council making hot cocoa for everyone at break. There was also a very messy students versus teachers pudding eating contest, a pirate and/or zombie dress up day, and a performance by Ms. Magi, Mr. Beard, and students (including the Indigenous Instruments class).
The popular “Can U Chill” event returned this year. Student Council brought in board games, movies, video games and snacks so that Edison students could chill out with their friends at school for a few hours. Students paid admission by contributing ten cans or five dollars to the drive. Some highlights of the evening included a chess tournament, a seven player mission fought on the Xbox, and Mr. Stamps and his wife Liz showing everyone how to win on the Wii.
While planning the food drive, Student Council spent a day volunteering at the Oregon Food Bank. Student Council member Nessa Melnick said she was glad to have participated in the day of service because it gave her “first-hand experience of where the food was going and how it was distributed. I could speak with authority when I talked to people at school about the organization and the need for food.”
In our advisory competition, Ms. Manning’s group triumphed over the reigning champs from Mr. Stamps’ advisory and the frontrunners from Mr. Livesey’s group. In total, the Edison Food Drive raised 2,604 cans and $286. The members of Student Council who delivered the donation to the Oregon Food Bank on December 18 were stunned to learn the donation weighed in at over 1,850 pounds. Unfortunately, we didn’t raise enough cans for Mr. Maguire to dye his hair green, but there’s always next year.
Thank You, 2009 Donors!
Deb Coakes WrightDenny and Joan Codd
JoAnn and John Crabtree
Spencer and Mary Dick
Josh Frank and Emily Howe
Raphael Goodblatt and Lee Pfeiffer
George and Sue Hutcherson
William and Toni Kiefel
Rebecca and Thomas Sondag
Andrea and Jay Sutherland
Jeff and Carla Wheeler
Anne and William Palmer