May 7, 2013 - Todd Burnette, Park City, UtahEditor:
I recently read a column by Craig Blumenshine discussing Larry Chouinard's retirement and felt compelled to add my thoughts to what I'm sure is a long list of accolades which are being heaped on Mr. Chouinard as he winds up a long and distinguished teaching career.
I had the great opportunity to play football for several seasons under Mr. Chouinard at Riverton High School (class of 1985) and can still hear the echoes of his booming voice when he would wake us up at 5:30 a.m. during football camp.
"It's a great day to be alive, men!" he used to yell at the top of his lungs while banging on a pair of cymbals borrowed from the marching band.
At the time, none of us necessarily agreed with him, but looking back now, I know he was teaching us life lessons about dedication, sacrifice, and the importance of working together as a team.
For some reason, I now find myself using the same refrain when I wake my 11-year-old son up for hockey practice. I guess I was learning something after all.
While football was an important part of my high school experience, it was Mr. Chouinard's role as Close-Up advisor which ended up having the most profound influence on my life. He not only actively recruited me and some other members of the football team to sign up for the Washington, D.C., trip in the first place, but he also helped us throughout the fundraising process and provided endless encouragement during the trip itself.
I was so influenced by the trip -- the exposure to Washington, including the opportunity to interact with students from other parts of the country -- that I came home determined to return to D.C. and attend Georgetown University, where I eventually earned a bachelor's degree in marketing.
In this era of budget cuts and standardized tests, it seems that extracurricular activities and out-of-state trips are always the first things to go. I fear that educators like Mr. Chouinard who know that true learning can take place outside of a classroom will soon become the exception rather than the rule. I'm thankful that I had the opportunity to learn from one of the best.
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