Cassville Intermediate School fifth graders and middle school sixth, seventh and eighth graders had the opportunity to take a journey with climber Eric Alexander up Mount Everest last Thursday. Along the way to the summit, the students learned a number of valuable lessons, including the true meaning of courage and faith, the importance of serving others and the realization that they have the ability to overcome challenges to reach their dreams. No, students never left the middle school gymnasium, but Alexander's motivational, multi-media presentation opened their eyes to a whole new world of possibilities.
After Alexander completed his motivational, comedic, emotional and inspirational presentation, I lingered behind a few minutes to hear him answer numerous questions posed by inquisitive fifth grade students. One of the questions asked was, "What if you have a dream, but you don't have the money to reach it?" What a great question that speaks to our entire community. Barry County is home to many low-income and middle class families that struggle just to provide children with the basic necessities. How do we inspire children to reach for those grandioso dreams, which could be limited by income and finances?
Alexander's response to the student's question was that she should recognize the financial challenge but not label that challenge as a roadblock. She should only see the challenge for what it is -- a challenge. Challenges are meant to be overcome. Challenges are placed in our lives to be character builders. Why are the people of Barry County kinder, more genuine and just plain friendlier than many of the people from other parts of our country? Could it be linked to our challenges?
I agree with Alexander; we should never see our finances as roadblocks to our dreams. Where there is a will, there is a way. As students in our community dream about becoming mountain climbers, professional athletes, doctors, lawyers or teachers, we should acknowledge that they will be challenged on their paths, but that each of their paths are open roads to their dreams. I am living proof that anyone can reach their dreams. In fifth grade, I wanted to be a professional writer.