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  • Superintendent Message

    March 24, 2020

    Dale L. Dickson

    I remember a trying time in my family’s life when my youngest son returned from a March mission trip his senior year of high school very ill.  He was a 6’ 2” 280 lb. young man that was in great shape from his dedicated workouts for the football team where he played as a lineman.  I had plans to take him to the Ohio High School Boys State Tournament in the coming week; however, our plans changed quickly as his symptoms of extreme fatigue, excessive thirst and urgency to urinate worsened.

      We took my son to our family doctor who ran some tests and, upon receiving the results, directed us to go immediately to the emergency room.  The doctors discovered that his ketones were excessively high and they suspected diabetes. The emergency room doctor set up an immediate appointment with specialist at Children’s Hospital where my son received exceptional care.  The specialist were having trouble diagnosing what was happening to my son.  You see we have absolutely no history of diabetes in our family.  It was clear that his pancreas was not producing insulin; but, they were having trouble identifying a cause and type.  After they completed a series of tests, the specialist visited us, in my son’s hospital room, to share the results.   They determined that my son had contracted a virus that, in turn, attacked his pancreas effecting its ability to produce insulin.

    My son was crushed at hearing this news.  You see my son was heading off to college to play football and study sports management.   As we together learned about the new lifestyle he would be living, with insulin injections, balancing diet and exercise, he immediately thought this would impact his ability to play football.  In his eyes, at that moment, you could see that he thought his hopes and dreams were diminishing.  It was a tearful moment having heard this news.  I remember sitting at his bedside, holding his arm, and telling him…..”Son, I love you…..we will get through this together…….everything will be alright.” 

    My fellow Johnstown Johnnies, we are indeed going through a very unexpected, difficult, unprecedented and challenging time right now.  It is painful to deal with the cancellations, postponements, and different ways we must conduct our normal business.  Classes, class trips, the musical, the sports season, the prom, graduation, weddings, family events, even making a trip into the grocery store all are different than we would like them to be right now.  We have had to prioritize health and safety above all else, in order to conquer an unseen and unexpected enemy known as the COVID-19 virus. 

    Please realize that you, as students, parents, staff, and the broader Johnstown community, are loved, we will get through this together, and that everything will be alright.  Let us work together to lift each other up, care for each other, and seek inspiration that will lead us through to better days ahead, and a new appreciation for the simple things in life we tend to take for granted.  Things like being together, having the opportunity to learn face-to-face, playing the sport we love, acting on a stage, or just going into a store without worrying about social spacing.

    Oh, by the way. My son, went on to play football his freshman year of college.  Even though he lost 35 lbs during his initial illness (not good for a lineman), he kept his focus on overcoming the hurdle that had been placed before him.  He looked to professional players like Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears, who played with diabetes, for inspiration.    As a family, we relied on our faith in Jesus Christ to get us through this trying time.  And today my son has his Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Management and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration.  He is doing what is necessary to build a solid career path.  He is married to a wonderful young lady and they are both building a life together focusing on the positive and working to jump the hurdles life sometimes places in our path. 

    We can do this Johnstown!  We can stay positive and encouraging in the toughest of times knowing that everything will be alright.

    God Bless

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