​With Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror and more holidays on the horizon, it is natural to engage in some sort of reflection this time of year. To start my three year-old in thinking along those lines, I prompted him to reflect on what he was thankful for over the Thanksgiving Break. His response? His motorcycle (technically, it’s a Big Wheel). Of course he needed a little more prodding to dig a little deeper to see what else he could be thankful for, but the ground had been softened and a small seed planted. Going through that exercise with him got me thinking: what was I thankful for? Naturally, my first response would be family, health, and so on, but it had been a while since I had really thought beyond that, and so what I kept coming up with was our students.

If you’ve ever heard me speak, then you have heard me say how great our students are. However, that is usually done in the context of an awards ceremony, on the heels of an athletic accomplishment, or sometimes in just highlighting that we have students of strong moral character. But this time I was looking at differently. Allow me to explain.

Right before we left for the break, the books had finally been settled on two fundraisers that our students had rallied behind. The first one was the fight against SMA, or Spinal Muscular Atrophy. In this case, it was to benefit infant twins who were born with the illness and have a connection to the Champe family. Through tee shirt sales for a navy-out at a home football game, students raised $3,000 to help this family with treatments and costs associated with it. The next fundraiser was our Pink-out activities to raise awareness for breast cancer and to show support for the strong women in our lives. Many in the Champe community have been impacted by this, so since we opened, we have worked hard to help support the Loudoun County Breast Health Network: all proceeds help residents in Loudoun who are undergoing treatment (see for more information). Through our faculty volleyball game and pink fundraisers, John Champe High School was able to donate $3,400 to this great cause.

And so that is what I was thankful for: generous, big-hearted students who care about those in need. And I know I am not the only one. I know the community is thankful for our students especially at this time of year as they are engaged in food drives, clothing drives, and even shoe drives. Their kindness has a positive and far-reaching impact on our community and even beyond, for which I am grateful. If you share my sentiment, would you please consider dropping food off at the school for the Dulles Food Pantry or an unopened toy for Toys for Tots to help out people in our community over the next few weeks? If you know of someone in need, or are in need yourself, please know that John Champe will do its best to help. We have a new parent liaison, Lisa Rael, so please do not hesitate to reach out to her.

In the meantime, I look forward to teaching my son what a new year’s resolution is—and might even have a couple of suggestions for him.

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