Who Do You Think You Are?

By Dave Ellefson, High School Counselor

Adolescence is a time in a person’s life where he/she goes through many changes. Both emotionally and physically.  It is a time to discover strengths and weaknesses. It is a time to learn about the effort and grit it takes to find success in our areas of weakness and to overcome setbacks as we follow our compass into the future. Career Theorist Eli Ginzberg states that there are three stages of career development.

The first stage is known as the Fantasy Period. This period ends at about age 11. During this time in a child’s life, careers are usually based on play. Ginzberg believed children transition from playful imitation to work imitation near the end of this stage.

In middle and high school years, adolescent children are able to better focus on, and recognize, work requirements and move into the Transition Stage. There are four components in this period. The first component is “interest,” where children learn likes and dislikes. The second component is “capacity,” where the child learns how much his/her abilities align with his/her interests. The third component, “values,” sees the child at 15 become aware of how work may fulfill his/her values. The final component of this period is called “transition.” Transition begins when the individual assumes responsibility for his/her own actions, becomes independent and exercises her freedom of choice.

The final stage of career develop will also begin during a student’s time in high school. The realistic period begins at age 17 and goes into the early 20s. The first phase of the realistic stage is “exploration.” During this phase, the student chooses a career path but remains open to other opportunities. The next phase, “crystallization,” is when the student  becomes more engrossed in a particular career, committing to one direction more than ever. The third period is “specification,” in which the student commits to or develops a preference for a specific area of work.

You may be asking, “Why is this important?” It is important because students need help with this process. Over the past few years, we have been very intentional at the high school level about helping to guide our students through this process with the creation of Tigerpath Academies, 4 year plan development, and Advisory lessons which guide students through the career development process. High School class registration will be beginning in the new year and we need the whole Hutchinson community to be equipped to help our youth as they make decisions about their future and explore interests and abilities. Hutchinson, our region, and our state are all affected by how well we do this. In the state of MN, only 60% of students who attend a 4 year college have graduated within 6 years of enrollment. In community colleges, only 29% who are enrolled compete a degree in 3 years. April Hanson, a representative of ACT, says one of the main reasons qualified students do not compete a degree is due to the fact that they do not have a clear career path in place. Hutchinson High School is committed to helping our students to be on the positive side of these statistics.

Stephen Smith and Shaun Fanning have written a book titled Who Do You Think You Are? It is an excellent resource for those who influence teens including parents, educators, employers, youth leaders, etc. Its intent is to give suggestions on how to coach teens to achieve college and career success by helping them to discover strengths and interests. It also gives suggestions to help teens decide on the correct path to reach career success. This may include college, the military, an apprenticeship, or work experience to reach personal goals. We have 20 copies of this book available for check out at the high school media center. Join us in helping our students to direct their individual career paths by asking them the following questions:  Who are you?, Where are you heading?, and How will you get to where you want to go?.

Tiger of the Week: Conner Hogan

Congratulations to Conner, our TIGER of the Week:

Conner Hogan – Boys Swim and Dive

Conner finished first in the 100 Backstroke at the Hutch Invite and 100 Freestyle in the Delano/Watertown dual meet. As a 7th grader it is very difficult to compete with junior and seniors, let alone win races against them. That is exactly what Conner has done to start the season. Conner has given great effort in practices and meets so far this season. He shows the utmost respect for his coaches, teammates and opponents. Conner is showing tremendous promise and should have a great season.

Empathy + Compassion = Kindness

By Jill Bridge, Licensed School Counselor

It is the season of hope, love and joy for many as they celebrate the holidays, such as Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa. As people enter the holiday season they are embracing empathy, compassion, and kindness. Regardless of how large or small a gesture of kindness is, each gesture is a way to teach our kids, families and community about empathy and compassion. We shouldn’t need an award or recognition each and every time we show kindness. Knowing that you did something good and kind should be an intrinsic motivator to repeat it again and again. The goal should not be fame and fortune but about knowing that the kind act was meaningful and impacted another person’s life in a positive way.

Empathy is feeling or understanding what someone else is feeling. It is important for kids and adults to realize that two people may have very different feelings about the same situation. Understanding this concept will help us put ourselves in others’ shoes; we take the time and energy to look at life from their perspective. Their viewpoint may not be the same as yours but it is important to realize that is ok. For example, I can like you, I can respect you, but I don’t have to have the same feelings and thoughts as you. We are all different, and as such, we need to respect those differences.

Once the person has the ability to understand another’s perspective, the person can start to develop empathy for others, which can evolve into compassion. When you have empathy for others, you can say or do many things to show care and concern. Saying something kind or doing something helpful for others are examples of showing compassion. Imagine what our community would be like if we took that extra moment to think about another’s feelings and did something to show compassion. As a family, talk about ways you and your children can show compassion for others. During the holidays, there are a variety of opportunities to show compassion-some that cost money while others don’t cost a dime. For example, you can contact the animal shelter and help take care of the animals, you can donate to the Salvation Army red kettles, shovel a neighbor’s driveway, leave a note and/or word of encouragement for a coworker, or any idea your family holds dear.

Kindness is an overall theme that emerges when we model empathy and compassion, with kindness being the end result. Kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. How do we decide when we are being compassionate or spreading kindness? Can they be the same thing but labeled differently? They definitely can be.  The list of ways to show compassion above are ways to show kindness. When you are being compassionate you are also being kind. In order to know the best ways to be compassionate and kind we need to walk in the other person’s shoes, and use empathy.

Empathy, kindness and compassion are skills that are taught. They are not innate traits, they are learned through discussions and by seeing/hearing examples. Be a role model that helps others understand empathy, compassion and kindness. We are role models for children, family members and even strangers. Embrace the holidays, spread kindness and cheer through using empathy and compassion. Kindness goes a long way not just during the holidays but each and every day of the year.

Holiday Celebration Outreach Dinner

Character & Respect

Good Character Starts with Teaching Respect

By Bill Carlson, Middle School Assistant Principal


One of the biggest responsibilities and challenges in our schools, homes, and communities is teaching our youth respect. While researching for this article, I found a plethora of information regarding this subject. The most common problems noted in my research were: school/community culture, lack of accountability in the home setting, exposure to violent media and deficient adult example; particularly in professional sports, the entertainment industry, media and political arenas. The negative influences of today’s secular culture are causing considerable impairment to our youth’s understanding of the value of respectful, courteous behavior.

Every person who is in contact with youth has a responsibility to model and teach courtesy and respect. However, this responsibility falls most acutely on the shoulders of the child’s parents and adult mentors. Our youth observe our every interaction, both at home and in the community. They watch closely how adults verbally and physically interact with one another. They learn how to interact and conduct themselves from these examples. Our youth need and desire a clear understanding of what is expected of them. Sadly, due to the problems listed above, our youth are often inundated with mixed messages, poor examples and unclear expectations.

Apart from family, school educators and extracurricular staff spend the most time with youth during their ‘formation’ years. These adult mentors and their school districts play a very important role in the character development of their students. Teachers, coaches, advisors, directors and support staff are all role models to their students. Modeling good character and leading by example is imperative to a healthy school culture. The vast majority of my research supports the implementation of Character Education Programs district wide. These programs are adaptable and can be used in the classroom setting, advisory setting or in the home.

Community youth leaders and coaches also play an important role in helping our youth develop good character.  Many of our local churches have faith formation and youth groups that meet on Wednesday’s during the academic school year. These environments offer our youth many positive examples of integrity and self-giving. Community and association based coaches/adult mentors have the perfect opportunity to reach and teach our youth important lessons in sportsmanship and positive character development. If character development is not a principal element in any of your child’s extracurricular activities, there is something deeply lacking. It is up to us as parents and adult mentors to bring about this change.

Like with most elements of mastering a skill or desired behavior it takes clear expectations through direction and education, consistency in practice, encouragement, opportunity and guidance. All these things need to be offered to our youth by their adult mentors. It is important however, for adults to recognize that youth don’t always get it right; that they need, ‘do overs’, and, as an adult mentor, being flexible instead of rigid will get you much farther in your desire to teach these important life skills. During my research I noted a common thread: that most parents desire to be their child’s, ‘friend’.  It is felt that this parenting approach is actually detrimental, and causes confusion and mixed messages for the child. Youth want to be friends with their peers. They need the adults in their life to be their guides, mentors and disciplinarians. Adults need to listen to young people, their reasoning and opinions. In doing this we are showing (modeling) respect. Having the attitude, ‘It’s my way or the highway,’ does not teach respect, it teaches fear and resentment. It closes doors to teaching opportunities instead of opening them. Sometimes as adult mentors we need to be strict about enforcing rules regarding conduct, but that does not mean being reasonable is removed from the equation.

I will end this with a favorite quote that has circulated for years in the arena of character development.

“Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become your actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”

Whalen Gymnasium Dedication

Screen Time and Development

Your Time is Limited: Look Around You

By Antonia Barrick, RN, BSN, PHN, LSN
Hutchinson Public Schools Health Services Coordinator

Digital media and screens have become a staple in our lives. We live in an era that we have everything at our fingertips and are forgetting how to promote interpersonal relationships and communication. Our phones are connected to our schedules, bank accounts, the internet and cameras. However, do we understand the impact screen time and digital media are having on our children’s development? Children are consuming 7+ hours of screen time per day, which is an increase of 2.5 hours in 10 years.

Ongoing research is showing guidelines for limiting screen time for younger children: no screen/digital media for children under 2 years of age, no more than 1 hour for children 2-5 years of age and less than 2 hours for children 6-18 years of age. In spite of these guidelines studies are showing children are spending on average 2 hours per day between 3 and 5 years of age and on average up to 7 hours on children over 8 years of age.

The brain is continually developing, especially in early childhood when development of emotional regulation and attachment, language, cognitive, socio-emotional and motor skills happen as well as physical development (ages birth to 8). “Middle childhood (usually defined as ages 6 to 12) is a time when children develop foundational skills for building healthy social relationships and learn roles that will prepare them for adolescence and adulthood.” This can be slowed by over use of screens and digital media. Studies show shrinkage or loss (atrophy) of gray matter especially in the frontal lobe, striatum and insula of the brain in comparison to internet/gaming addictions. The frontal lobe continues to develop and undergo massive changes from puberty to mid-twenties and is responsible for executive functioning (planning, prioritizing, and organizing) as well as impulse control. The striatum aids in reward pathways and the ability to decrease unacceptable social impulses. Lastly, the insula is an area that helps with empathy and ability to identify body signals of different emotions. The brain also develops responses to preferred activities that releases dopamine (reward/pleasure chemical). When a person is addicted or enjoys screen time the brain releases dopamine to tell the person this makes me happy, hence the addiction and anxiety to always checking the phone, tablet, TV, computer.

If children are exposed to screen time/digital media at a younger age or for excessive times the brain develops an addiction and can inhibit individuals’ ability to process face-to-face interactions. Children strive for attention and if a parent is on their phone/device the child will most likely act out to gain that attention, which some individuals may look at that as a behavior or reward the behavior with the tablet, TV, or device, thus continuing the vicious circle. The developmental periods for children who rely on digital interaction rather than face-to-face interactions or reduced caregiving from parents who are also attached to their devices can hinder school success, health literacy, self-discipline, the ability to make good decisions, healthy eating habits and conflict negotiation. The reliance on screen time can also decrease creative imagination and play time and in turn increase boredom.

So what can we do?

10 questions to Consider:

  1. What kind of screens are in your home (i.e. TV, tablet, computer, smartphone)? Which does your child use? Which do you use?
  2. Is watching TV or programs/movies on other devices a shared family activity and a common way to relax? How often is a screen on in the background although no one is really watching?
  3. Does anyone in the family use screens during meal times?
  4. What do you watch with your child and what does your child watch alone?
  5. Do you encourage or discourage conversation with your child while using screens?
  6. Do you ever watch adult content with your child around?
  7. Does your child use screens while you do chores around the home?
  8. Are there any screen-based activities in your child’s day care program? Do you know how much these are used?
  9. Does your child use any kind of screen before bedtime? How long before bed? Is there a screen in their room or charged in their room?
  10. Does your family have rules/guidelines for screen use that everyone understands and follows such as “device free times”?


Information obtained from:

Healthy People 2020
NPR.org Kids and Screen Time: What does the Research Say?
Mayo Clinic
Canadian Paediatric Society
And Psychology Today
Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood

Is Your Child Vaping or Juuling?

By Daron VanderHeiden, Superintendent

Vaping, or as some teenagers refer to it – juuling, has become a national epidemic. Vaping through an e-cigarette device has been around for about ten years. However, the use by teenagers has skyrocketed in recent years. There are an estimated 3 million high school and middle school students currently vaping in the United States. A portion of those 3 million attend the Hutchinson Middle School and the Hutchinson High School.

Doctors and other health professionals generally agree that vaping may be safer than smoking a traditional cigarette; however, the nicotine (a toxic chemical) and other harmful chemicals like the heavy metals contained in vaping are dangerous and unhealthy for teenagers. The long-term effects of vaping are unknown at this time.

The following is a list of things parents should know about vaping:

  • Vaping is the act of inhaling a vapor produced by the e-cigarette device and exhaled as a fine vapor mist, which dissipates quickly, and is mostly unrecognizable after a very short period of time. Unlike traditional cigarettes, your child could be vaping in his/her bedroom and you would not be able to detect it through smell.
  • Vaping can be just as addictive as traditional tobacco products due to the addictive characteristics of nicotine.
  • Vape cartridges comes in a variety of flavors and chemical mixtures. There are flavors like bubble gum, mango, apple pie, and watermelon. Chemical mixtures may include different levels of nicotine or marijuana. As an example, you can purchase different levels of nicotine ranging from 3 milligrams to 50 milligrams in a refill cartridge.
  • According to the Journal of the American Medical Association research, teenagers that vape are up to 5 times more likely to start smoking traditional cigarettes than those teenagers that do not vape.
  • E-cigarette devices come in a variety of models, shapes, and sizes. Some have been manufactured to look like other common electronic devices, like a flash-drive for a computer, a pen, or an ipod music device. These devices are very hard to identify if you do not examine them closely. This is one reason it is so difficult to identify and address the issue with kids.
  • E-cigarettes and vape cartridges are very easy for teenagers to purchase.
  • According to the FDA, tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of death in the United States.

Hutchinson Public Schools recognizes and treats e-cigarette possession and use as we would traditional tobacco products and act accordingly.

I liken this epidemic to teenage cigarette smoking back in the 50’s and 60’s. Teenagers at that time thought cigarette smoking was harmless. Both of my parents smoked as teenagers and adults, and I recall them talking about when they started to smoke and how unaware of the health risks they were taking. There was little to no regulation, nobody seem to care about teenagers purchasing cigarettes, they were easy to get, and there was little to no law enforcement back then trying to curb the use. Of course, both of my parents regretted ever starting to smoke. The commonalities between that era with cigarettes, and present day vaping, seem eerily similar.

Let’s work together as a community to end teenage vaping in Hutchinson for the sake of our children’s long term health. Our children will thank us later!

Middle School Celebrating National School Lunch Week

The Hutchinson Middle School celebrated National School Lunch Week (October 15-19, 2018) with special help in the kitchen and special lunchroom guests.

Thank You Donors!

Hutchinson Public Schools

Hutchinson Public Schools