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Thomas Presents Message To Students

By Staff | Oct 7, 2010

GRAETTINGER – “The greatest gift we have is the power to choose.”

For Aaron Thomas, that philosophy is one instilled in him by his father, the late Ed Thomas. Ed Thomas was the legendary football coach at Aplington-Parkersburg High School who was shot and killed by a former player on a summer day in 2009.

For Thomas and his family, rising above that tragedy was made easier by the values instilled in them by their husband and father.

Thomas shared his message with the student body of the Graettinger/Terril community schools during Homecoming week activities last week during an assembly.

“We all have choices that we can make, every day,” Thomas told the students. “Every day you have a choice when you come to school. You can either choose to work hard and have a good attitude, or you can chose not to and just get by.”

Thomas explained how his family was honored this year at the 2010 ESPY Awards as the recipients of the Arthur Ashe Award during the event. NFL great Brett Favre made the presentation of the award to the family, serving as the presenter of the video that told the family’s story. Thomas shared the video with the students, who watched in rapt attention.

The video told the story of a two-year period where Parkersburg was devastated by a horrific tornado in 2008 that destroyed a third of the community, including the high school, and claimed eight lives. Ed Thomas became one of the catalysts in rallying the people of Parkersburg to rebuild their community and their lives in the face of the storm’s adversity.

“After that tornado, people had to make a choice whether or not to stay and pick up the pieces or to move away,” Thomas said. “My father was one of those who stayed and helped others pick up and start over, because he cared about people and his community.”

The mark of respect for the elder Thomas was evident when community leaders approached the coach to see if he could find volunteers to help in a most sobering task – digging graves for those killed in the tornado.

“My father rounded up the 12 or 14 kids and helped dig those graves,” Aaron told the crowd. “He taught those kids that having pride in their school and their community made them part of the solution to problems, and they were there, ready to do whatever needed to be done, including digging graves.”

A year later, on a summer morning in 2009, one of Thomas’ former players, Mark Becker, walked into the A/P weight room and shot Ed Thomas five times, killing him in front of students lifting weights that morning.

The act was horrifying. But, rather than wallowing in pity for themselves, the Thomas family responded by encouraging the Parkersburg community to also pray and support the Becker family through the event.

“That was the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do,” Aaron said. “But as I prepared to speak at the press conference after the shooting, I thought about what my dad would have done in the same situation. He wouldn’t have pouted about it, he would have approached it with as positive an attitude as he could. I knew that if I’d pouted about it, my dad would have been very disappointed in me.”

Despite the adversity, the Thomas family has remained in Parkersburg, and continues to be supportive of the Becker family and their community in spite of all that has happened.

“No matter how bad your situation is, there’s always someone that has it worse,” he said. “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent in how you respond. I was very fortunate to have had my father around for 30 great years, teaching me lessons about life and people,” Thomas said. “Those are lessons I’m sharing with my own sons and young people like you, and I hope you’ll remember them.”

To conclude, Thomas challenged not only the students to promote positive attitudes, but also the educators in the district as well. “Teachers, remember that these students are the future. Students in elementary are excited to come to school while some of the enthusiasm is lost by the time that reach high school. It’s your job to keep that enthusiasm alive every day and to enjoy every day that you have that opportunity.”by Dan Voigt

GRAETTINGER – “The greatest gift we have is the power to choose.”

For Aaron Thomas, that philosophy is one instilled in him by his father, the late Ed Thomas. Ed Thomas was the legendary football coach at Aplington-Parkersburg High School who was shot and killed by a former player on a summer day in 2009.

For Thomas and his family, rising above that tragedy was made easier by the values instilled in them by their husband and father.

Thomas shared his message with the student body of the Graettinger/Terril community schools during Homecoming week activities last week during an assembly.

“We all have choices that we can make, every day,” Thomas told the students. “Every day you have a choice when you come to school. You can either choose to work hard and have a good attitude, or you can chose not to and just get by.”

Thomas explained how his family was honored this year at the 2010 ESPY Awards as the recipients of the Arthur Ashe Award during the event. NFL great Brett Favre made the presentation of the award to the family, serving as the presenter of the video that told the family’s story. Thomas shared the video with the students, who watched in rapt attention.

The video told the story of a two-year period where Parkersburg was devastated by a horrific tornado in 2008 that destroyed a third of the community, including the high school, and claimed eight lives. Ed Thomas became one of the catalysts in rallying the people of Parkersburg to rebuild their community and their lives in the face of the storm’s adversity.

“After that tornado, people had to make a choice whether or not to stay and pick up the pieces or to move away,” Thomas said. “My father was one of those who stayed and helped others pick up and start over, because he cared about people and his community.”

The mark of respect for the elder Thomas was evident when community leaders approached the coach to see if he could find volunteers to help in a most sobering task – digging graves for those killed in the tornado.

“My father rounded up the 12 or 14 kids and helped dig those graves,” Aaron told the crowd. “He taught those kids that having pride in their school and their community made them part of the solution to problems, and they were there, ready to do whatever needed to be done, including digging graves.”

A year later, on a summer morning in 2009, one of Thomas’ former players, Mark Becker, walked into the A/P weight room and shot Ed Thomas five times, killing him in front of students lifting weights that morning.

The act was horrifying. But, rather than wallowing in pity for themselves, the Thomas family responded by encouraging the Parkersburg community to also pray and support the Becker family through the event.

“That was the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do,” Aaron said. “But as I prepared to speak at the press conference after the shooting, I thought about what my dad would have done in the same situation. He wouldn’t have pouted about it, he would have approached it with as positive an attitude as he could. I knew that if I’d pouted about it, my dad would have been very disappointed in me.”

Despite the adversity, the Thomas family has remained in Parkersburg, and continues to be supportive of the Becker family and their community in spite of all that has happened.

“No matter how bad your situation is, there’s always someone that has it worse,” he said. “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent in how you respond. I was very fortunate to have had my father around for 30 great years, teaching me lessons about life and people,” Thomas said. “Those are lessons I’m sharing with my own sons and young people like you, and I hope you’ll remember them.”

To conclude, Thomas challenged not only the students to promote positive attitudes, but also the educators in the district as well. “Teachers, remember that these students are the future. Students in elementary are excited to come to school while some of the enthusiasm is lost by the time that reach high school. It’s your job to keep that enthusiasm alive every day and to enjoy every day that you have that opportunity.”

Thomas Presents Message To Students

By Staff | Oct 7, 2010

AARON?THOMAS

GRAETTINGER – “The greatest gift we have is the power to choose.”

For Aaron Thomas, that philosophy is one instilled in him by his father, the late Ed Thomas. Ed Thomas was the legendary football coach at Aplington-Parkersburg High School who was shot and killed by a former player on a summer day in 2009.

For Thomas and his family, rising above that tragedy was made easier by the values instilled in them by their husband and father.

Thomas shared his message with the student body of the Graettinger/Terril community schools during Homecoming week activities last week during an assembly.

“We all have choices that we can make, every day,” Thomas told the students. “Every day you have a choice when you come to school. You can either choose to work hard and have a good attitude, or you can chose not to and just get by.”

Thomas explained how his family was honored this year at the 2010 ESPY Awards as the recipients of the Arthur Ashe Award during the event. NFL great Brett Favre made the presentation of the award to the family, serving as the presenter of the video that told the family’s story. Thomas shared the video with the students, who watched in rapt attention.

The video told the story of a two-year period where Parkersburg was devastated by a horrific tornado in 2008 that destroyed a third of the community, including the high school, and claimed eight lives. Ed Thomas became one of the catalysts in rallying the people of Parkersburg to rebuild their community and their lives in the face of the storm’s adversity.

“After that tornado, people had to make a choice whether or not to stay and pick up the pieces or to move away,” Thomas said. “My father was one of those who stayed and helped others pick up and start over, because he cared about people and his community.”

The mark of respect for the elder Thomas was evident when community leaders approached the coach to see if he could find volunteers to help in a most sobering task – digging graves for those killed in the tornado.

“My father rounded up the 12 or 14 kids and helped dig those graves,” Aaron told the crowd. “He taught those kids that having pride in their school and their community made them part of the solution to problems, and they were there, ready to do whatever needed to be done, including digging graves.”

A year later, on a summer morning in 2009, one of Thomas’ former players, Mark Becker, walked into the A/P weight room and shot Ed Thomas five times, killing him in front of students lifting weights that morning.

The act was horrifying. But, rather than wallowing in pity for themselves, the Thomas family responded by encouraging the Parkersburg community to also pray and support the Becker family through the event.

“That was the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do,” Aaron said. “But as I prepared to speak at the press conference after the shooting, I thought about what my dad would have done in the same situation. He wouldn’t have pouted about it, he would have approached it with as positive an attitude as he could. I knew that if I’d pouted about it, my dad would have been very disappointed in me.”

Despite the adversity, the Thomas family has remained in Parkersburg, and continues to be supportive of the Becker family and their community in spite of all that has happened.

“No matter how bad your situation is, there’s always someone that has it worse,” he said. “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent in how you respond. I was very fortunate to have had my father around for 30 great years, teaching me lessons about life and people,” Thomas said. “Those are lessons I’m sharing with my own sons and young people like you, and I hope you’ll remember them.”

To conclude, Thomas challenged not only the students to promote positive attitudes, but also the educators in the district as well. “Teachers, remember that these students are the future. Students in elementary are excited to come to school while some of the enthusiasm is lost by the time that reach high school. It’s your job to keep that enthusiasm alive every day and to enjoy every day that you have that opportunity.”