Lessons from the Pep Club Bus

Stevens-L-06-3x4Intro from Alana:

My son, Ian, is a freshman in high school.  I find myself marveling at his ability to navigate these formative years with such grace – he is comfortable in this first year at Blue Valley West in a way I was never comfortable with high school.  It makes me so glad.

When I received this wonderful piece from my friend, Loralee Stevens, about the lessons she learned from rides on her high school pep club bus, I couldn’t help but smile and think about the ways my own child is taking away lessons from his daily experiences.

A professor and professional at Johnson County Community College, it’s my understanding that one of the best parts of the week for Loralee is when she teaches a class called “Career and Life Planning.”  Students take the class for a variety of reasons; whatever the case, they learn about themselves, each other, and potential careers that will be a good match for their personalities, skills and interests.  One required assignment is an Occupational Family Tree. Students inquire about not only the names on their family tree, but what jobs those individuals held. Lights of inspiration are often inspired by this exercise as well as other activities in the class.  Loralee also has a 25 year and running day job in higher education, several degrees, and a few awards.  Related to writing, she courted her now husband through her blog back in the early 2000s.  One of her proudest achievements is collaborating with her husband in raising teen boys to be nice people.  She also enjoys bringing ONLY one-day-old doughnuts to the break room at work.

Welcome to CLC, Loralee!

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Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen.  Guest Post by Loralee Stevens.

When I was in high school in my small town, I and my fellow students happily piled onto the Pep Club Bus, and traveled, sometimes well over an hour, to other small towns to watch countless sporting events.  Looking back, this sounds like a really bad time, but the school people knew what they were doing. They kept us occupied and out of trouble. And I am pretty sure there was never actually a club. Additionally, as I look back, I realize the treasure trove of life lessons I took from those bus rides:

The lyrics to “Another One Bites the Dust.”  This album was reaching popularity during my early years of high school.  It was one of the first records I owned.  We sang it on the Pep Club Bus. I’m not sure if this is really a lesson as much as an asset.  If you don’t know the words to a popular song from YOUR era, learn one.  It will help you when you are in a large group to identify others your age. This can be important when you need to locate a person to appreciate your clever cultural reference.

Food peer pressure is real.  Funyuns taste gross. They are sharp and hurt your mouth.  It never occurred to me not to eat them on the Pep Club Bus.  We came prepared for the long rides with a not-single-serving-size bag of them. I recently noticed an empty Funyuns bag in my teenage son’s car and realized, it must start there.  Those sharp chemical circles are the gateway peer pressure food.  If you don’t think it is food it probably isn’t. Don’t eat it.

Holding your own is important.   I started high school as a shy person, leaning on my vigorously social friend for a link to the popular clique. I was thankful we were in the habit of always sitting together on the Pep Club Bus.  If I sat on the outside of the bench, I would be assured of her company. I had noticed that when she sat on the outside, her back was to me for some of the ride as she socialized and I sulked. Once, as we were getting on the bus and I was maneuvering for the outside seat she said to me, “No, I want to sit on the outside, so I can talk to everyone…and you.” Ouch. It was at that moment, I realized I needed to hold my own.  I needed to hold my own and stop trying to box her in to have her attention.  I asked myself:  When I sat on the outside of the bench, why wasn’t I socializing?  My being too shy to embrace the people sitting all around me was holding her back, but the most important lesson?  It was holding me back.  When you are holding yourself back, you can’t help others.

From networking to professional development and career moves, this early experience helped me. I reframe the questions about others’ success from “Why that person?” to “Good for them! Why not me, too…and you, too?”

2 thoughts on “Lessons from the Pep Club Bus

  1. Loralee, starting the first day of graduate school you taught me so much about not taking myself so seriously. It is okay to put yourself out there and see what happens. In an uncomfortable situation or a moment of shyness I have often thought “what would Loralee do?” and it has helped me to be part of the conversation instead of on the sidelines.

    1. Amy — This is just about the coolest comment I have ever seen! Way to go — both to you and to Loralee. Thanks for taking time to share your thoughts. — Alana

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