On Saturday night, I was pleased and honored to attend our annual Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, which took place at the Winery at Wolf Creek.

This year, two inductees in the Distinguished Alumni category, were inducted as our newest members, Mrs. Casey Holzapfel, a 2008 Norton graduate, and Dr. Rudolph James Petrich, a 1963 Norton graduate. Mrs. Holzapfel was the salutatorian of her class, a John Phillip Sousa Award winner and a John Reichard Scholarship recipient. She graduated from the University of Akron in 2012 and is a proud graduate of Harvard Law School. She left an indelible mark upon her teachers, coaches and her building while at Norton and, today, is a practicing Attorney at Law.

Dr. Petrich is graduate of Kent State University and earned his doctorate from The Ohio State University. He is an Army Ranger School graduate and served as a captain in the United States Army. While serving our country in Vietnam, he earned both a Bronze Star and Purple Heart Award. His career has been as a podiatrist.

While I sat and listened to presentations, I couldn’t help but notice how both inductees were surrounded by the same thing – family. It was present that night, and it is present in each student’s educational journey still. Perhaps now, more than ever, our profession recognizes the need for family help and support.

We are able to determine when it is present and when we need to step in even more. Now, more than ever, we are facilitating learning in our buildings through a myriad of social challenges, including the often-studied impact of social media. For our students who do more easily find success, our buildings don’t really do anything differently; it’s what that student brings to us that makes all of the difference.

At Norton, we have so many great kids that come directly from a supportive educational family, and, while they are here, it is vital that the people living with that student realize that fact. They are crucial! The state of Ohio is supporting district efforts more than ever with new Student Health and Wellness funding. This, for instance, allowed us to consider and bring an additional counselor and school psychologist to our district over the summer. This money will allow us to begin a mentoring program and solidify other proven behavioral programs into our district. Our students need it.

Despite the additional and necessary programs, though, nothing assists a student’s educational journey better than a supportive family. I saw that Saturday night with two new inductees and see it in our buildings on a daily basis. It’s a reminder that it is neither up to a family nor a district to do this alone. We need to do this together.

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