Supporting those who dream big

Published 10:08 pm Wednesday, May 16, 2012

As a page designer, I rarely meet the subjects of our stories. Sometimes, I have to admit, I don’t always have time to read all the stories that appear in our pages. But I do spend a great deal of time reviewing photos, hunting for the ones that will be the most interesting for readers. Sometimes, these photos offer nothing more than a pretty scene. But sometimes they reveal a lesson we can all learn from people we’ve never met.

Take Tristan Jolley, a fifth-grader at Mack Benn Jr. Elementary School. When I was flipping through the photos submitted to go with a profile of the student, I was taken aback by the juxtaposition of an amusing snapshot in front of a gorgeous aerial view of Virginia.

But the story reveals even more.


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Tristan’s tale is the story of a young student dreaming big and making that dream a reality. It’s also a story of what successes our young people can achieve when the adults around them are supportive.

When Tristan came up with the idea of releasing a weather balloon carrying a GoPro camera, video camera, a snapshot of Tristan and sister Brianna and a GPS unit, it likely seemed a difficult project for a fifth-grader to complete. But his gifted resource teacher, Elizabeth Petry, gave her blessing. As she told the Suffolk News-Herald: “It’s this kind of thing that teaches students well; (students) say what they’re going to do and then follow through.”

And with the help of his father, support of his mother and delight of a stranger, Tristan’s project was a success. He was able to retrieve data from the balloon and create a presentation to share with his classmates.

Such support and successes help young people learn important lessons. For example, the idea that you won’t know what you are capable of until you try comes to mind.

Which is why Tristan should be encouraged for dreaming big and his family and teachers should be commended for supporting his dreams.

We can all take a page from their book.