Failure First: The Rewards of Risk
September 1, 2014
At the start of freshman year, you walk into the school for the first time, wondering if you’ll know someone in your classes and if you’re ready. By senior year, you’re still full of doubts and worry: Did I get involved enough? Maybe I should have taken a business class? Maybe I should ask the girl I like to homecoming?
By the time you graduate, none of these questions should be left unanswered. East Leyden art teacher Mr. Bill Krypel shared some of his ideas about the importance of healthy risk-taking. “As far as risk taking goes,” he said, “I believe at any point in your life you should be doing at least one thing that makes you uncomfortable. If you are doing things that make you uncomfortable, you are usually creating an opportunity for personal growth.”
Risks come in all shapes and sizes. Trying out for a sport, deciding to join a new club, asking your crush to homecoming; the daily list of risks that could, and should, be taken during your teen years goes on and on. The stories included here are about the importance of risk and the value of responding to failures.
Krypel said, “I think the first [risk] students need to take is to risk being successful. That doesn’t apply to everyone because not everyone over the course of their life has taken risks and succeed, but for students who haven’t had that experience, I think it’s a vital exercise to partake in.”
3 Required Risks
Risk #1: Try Out For a Sport or Join a Club
Here at East Leyden, there are all kinds of sports and clubs that you can take part in.
From basketball, which tests your ability to work with other people and coordination to cross country, which tests your individual physical and mental stamina, there are many different types of risk in sports. What they all share is that you have to be ready to put in 100% or you won’t succeed. If sports aren’t your thing, then don’t worry because there are plenty of clubs to join. You can risk showcasing your talents in art club or even test your stage fright through Orchesis.
Through participation, you may find some undiscovered potential when you risk and try something new.
Risk #2: Take a Challenging Class
One of the best things about East Leyden is the wide variety of classes that are available for you. From graphic design, to Entrepreneurship, to Western Civilization, the list goes on and on. But one thing students usually don’t do is take a class that they know will be a challenge for them. While most try to take classes that they know they will do well in, it can be very beneficial to take a class that will really challenge you.
When we say challenging class, we don’t necessarily mean AP classes. While these courses are much tougher than regular classes, everyone is different. Something that is challenging to one person may be easy for another. If you’ve never explored an elective area, taking an introductory industrial technology or family and consumer science class can be a huge challenge.
Taking a class that personally challenges you provides you with a goal and expands horizons. Senior Arielle Strauss knows this first hand. “I believe taking a challenging class is very beneficial to students,” she said, “It pushes kids to reach their full potential. All students should take a challenging class before they graduate.”
Risk #3: Ask a Crush Out
We’ve all had a crush before, but most of us don’t act on it. We’re scared of the outcome, but that’s what makes this a “must do” before graduation.
Asking someone out is a risk worth taking. The outcome could make you the a happiest person on the face of the earth or end with you feeling like your world is crashing down. This wouldn’t be in an article about risks if the outcome could sometimes not be in your favor. You always have to be hopeful though. The person you ask out might have liked you the whole time!
If you plan to ask someone to a dance, you should have no problem choosing a date. There’s Homecoming in September, Turnabout in February, and Prom for upperclassmen in May. You should have plenty of time to ask your crush to any of these fantastic events!
Ready for Risk
At the beginning of their high school careers, freshmen are good examples of the power and value of risk taking. Here are a few newcomers who have plans to get the most out of the next four years.
Alan Ramirez said he hopes to get involved in Theatre, Songwriting Club, Math Club, and Key Club. Ramirez has never done any of these activities before, but he said, “I’m most excited about meeting new people. I really want to be more social and meet new people to have a fun school year.”
Raul Solis is interested in joining Snowboarding Club and Boys Volleyball. He said, “Even just those two things I’m looking forward to.” But he added that he is looking into more activities to do and can’t wait to get more involved with Leyden.
Amanda Zapal said, “I’m not planning on doing anything this year, but for next year, I’m planning on doing swimming or tennis, but I am excited for Homecoming this year with friends.” She also added, “I feel more free in high school compared to middle school, I definitely like it a lot more.”
Her friend Alexandra Jaz added, “Currently I’m in Girls Swimming, but I’ve been in swimming before high school. I’m also looking forward to Student Council and Key Club, and I’m excited to go to Homecoming this year with my friends for the first time.”
Alexandra Kopcinska echoed the interest in sports: “I’m looking forward to Track and Field because I’m currently in Cross Country.”
She’ll be joined by tablemate Dominika Kozanecka, who said, “I’m currently in Cross Country, but I’m looking forward to Track and Field along with Homecoming and Key Club.”
Four Years of Risk and Reward
Your high school years may be the most exciting ones you spend in school. However, when dealing with honors and advanced placement classes, sports, clubs, and after school activities, “exciting” might not be the term most students would use.
It really all depends on how you look at undertaking these challenges. Senior Kerri Predovich is an outstanding example of the positive outlook a high school student should have when taking challenges. Whether it be enrolling in tough classes or participating in clubs, school events and activities, Predovich keeps a positive attitude.
She explained, “My personal definition of a challenge is something that is out of your comfort zone and will stretch and test your limits.” She has been challenging herself by going out of her comfort zone and testing her limits starting from her freshman year at East Leyden all the way to her senior year.
Undeniably, the most crucial part of high school is of course, education. No matter which classes you are enrolled in, it is important to leave high school with new information. Predovich aspires to possess knowledge in subjects ranging from AP Euro to Symphonic Band. By dedicating herself to schoolwork, Predovich has undertaken the challenge of good time management due to being “so busy with school activities and AP and Honors classes along with out of school commitment, and I will only get more busy after high school.”
For all four years of high school, Predovich has also risked the pressures of the stage. When she first began engaging in school plays she admits that it did make her feel uncomfortable. She now feels in her zone rather than outside of her comfort zone when performing. When you find something that benefits you and makes you feel good, you will overcome any obstacle to be able to do it. Even the biggest obstacle you can imagine is no match for Kerri. She has juggled hours of honors and AP work and various clubs and activities, while consistently showing great effort at her roles in theatre.
Even outside of school, Predovich makes it a point to gain knowledge from her experiences, such as tackling personal challenges. She references her personal challenges positively, saying the “personal challenges I’ve faced and overcome have helped me be able to relate to other people better, be more understanding, and less judgmental.” The motivation to succeed and grow as a person allowed Predovich to take on new challenges and make the most out of her high school years. She strives to spread positivity and inspire her peers to go outside of their comfort zone and challenge themselves to do everything in their power to take the most knowledge and memories out of their high school years as they possibly can!
Great Failures in History
When we think of great historical figures, we usually remember their achievements, the successes that changed humanity. But we should also think of failure. Some of the most well-recognized inventors and innovators failed many times before they succeeded. Here’s some of history’s greatest failures, all of whom ultimately enjoyed amazing success:
Thomas Edison had a unique characteristic about his failures: He failed more than anyone on this list. Edison attempted more than 9,000 experiments before he successfully created the light bulb. He was told many times by his colleagues to give up, but he persevered, and succeeded.
Inventor of the light bulb and held 1,093 US patents.
Henry Ford, pioneer of the automobile industry, actually failed twice before creating the eventually iconic Ford Motor Company. Even after going bankrupt twice, investors still funded him and believed he could run a successful automobile company.
Creating the Model T, which became the first automobile produced on an assembly line and ushered in a new era of transportation.
It’s hard to believe, but Disney was fired from his newspaper job for a lack of good ideas. His list of failures doesn’t end there. He started his own animation company and immediately went bankrupt. He had to eat dog food before he could finally get on his feet. Even after creating Disney, he still was ridiculed before winning over the hearts of millions with Mickey Mouse.
Created Disney, which produced such iconic characters as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Also created the Disneyland and Disney World theme parks.
Lincoln is known as one of the greatest US Presidents of all time, yet the Great Emancipator failed to win an election seven times. He failed more than once for each, but eventually succeeded in getting elected to the Legislature, Senate, and then Presidency.
Preserving the Union during the Civil War and emancipating the slaves in the US.
The Value of Athletic Competition
Trying out for or belonging to a sports team is crucial to many students’ high school experience. Because the experience is so rewarding, the risk in trying out for a sports team is most certainly worth it.
Football coach Mr. Tom Cerasani is just one of the many members of Leyden’s staff who strongly advocate that students take a risk and try out for the various sports teams Leyden offers. Mr. Cerasani believes that each student at Leyden who belongs to a sports team is taking a risk because when they compete they are always risking the chance of failure, but that’s what makes them a better player and teammate.
With athletic competition comes both physical and mental rewards. Physically, athletes get into better shape from conditioning, and mentally, athletes are shaped into tougher people from the many challenges they may come across during practice or during an intense confrontation on the playing field.
Although Mr. Cerasani does, indeed, place a high value on the physical and mental rewards that come with belonging on a sports team, he does not personally reward his football team for participation because in his opinion, the reward is competing and being on the team. Your teammates turn into family, and they will support you and be proud of you no matter what happens during a game or a match.
Mr. Cerasani belonged to his school’s football, basketball, and track teams. He recalled that he had a great experience playing for these teams. Among football, basketball, and track, football is his sure favorite! Mr. Cerasani’s success on his high school’s football team parallels his success as East Leyden’s football coach. Be it football, basketball, or one of the various sports Leyden offers, he urges each student to try out for a sport as he stresses that “to be a good teammate you have to be selfless, and that’s something that teenagers need to learn to do.” No matter your skill or size, or if you are a freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior- take a risk in trying out for one of Leyden’s sports teams, nothing can substitute the experience of playing, winning, making progress and new friends!