(If you’re reading this on email the picture above is a video. Click on the picture to view the video on YouTube.)
Friday night was the 6th ever football game between our two high schools, Thomas Worthington and Worthington Kilbourne. (Before Friday WKHS lead the series 4-1 and won again on Friday night.) For the first 16 years after Worthington High School split into two high schools the schools did not play in Football. They did however play in many other sports. (When I coached Lacrosse at WKHS in 1999 – 2000 my teams went 6-0 against TWHS. Thus we played 6 times in the span of a couple of years and those were important games to both sides, including the coaches.)
There is still an internal debate about whether our schools should play one another. On one hand the competition is good and can be healthy. In other instances it seems to divide our students and even our parent groups. As a school district we seek for our high schools to work together to provide the best possible education both curricular and co-curricular that can be provided. Ideally we would like for our students to travel between campuses and take courses that are available at either campus. However, we recognize the pride and the benefits of school association, especially in students ages 14-18. Sometimes, there is conflict on these competing goals.
Last week was somewhat of a festival of competition between the schools. On Thursday night both the girls and boys soccer teams played against each other in a double header. (TWHS won the girls soccer game. The boys game ended in a 1-1 tie.) Friday a community tailgate was held before the football game and finally the football game commenced. (We also had students from both sides travel to the other campus and make some poor choices by encouraging school spirit with paint on windows, cars, and rocks.)
Overall, we as a school district survived the week. My one take away was this. We are still one community. We have two high schools in this school district and it’s ok if they both strive for excellence and compete vigorously. But… in the end, we’re all in this together. This point was driven home by the students at Worthington Kilbourne who I couldn’t be more proud of. In the midst of the intense competition they decided to support Thomas Worthington and TWHS teacher and coach, Steve Gussler, (who is battling cancer) by creating, selling, and wearing GussStrong headbands at the game. The TWHS students wore red GussStrong headbands and the WKHS students wore blue GussStrong headbands. How cools is that!
Rivalry’s can go wrong. As a sophmore in high school I walked into the visiting football locker room at Upper Arlington High School to find 4 dead (real) Cardinals hanging from the ceiling. (Worthington and UA was the main rivalry back then. They even played the games in the afternoon for a time in 80’s because the student fights between the two wealthy suburban schools were so disruptive.) Those displays from the past put our kids actions today in perspective. They want to win. They cheer like crazy for their team. They may even take it too far. But, in the end, they’re together. They understand we’re one community and they support one another.
I appreciate our students from both schools. They understood last week what matters most and I think that lesson is the real life lesson. I hope it’s the one they remember as they move forward in life. #GussStrong.