Students Honored for Hard Work

Staff Writer

On Wednesday evening, 20 students from Darke, Mercer and Auglaize County were recognized for their work with their business partners at the 20 Under 20 Awards banquet.
Minster student Joseph Winner was recognized with his business partner Nidec Minster Corporation as well as Wapakoneta student Addie Place and her business partner Western Ohio True-Value Hardware. For each student, a short video was played with the individuals they worked with describing how the student had been beneficial to the business and showed a little of the work they did.
At the dinner, Londell Smith, regional manager with the business technology development group at Crown Equipment Corporation, was the keynote speaker and he talked about how it takes being crazy to achieve big goals. The main thing he wanted participants to take away from the evening was that, “crazy people do what normal people don’t, and in return, crazy people get what normal people want.”
He referenced the age old questions students get asked a lot which is, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” He used two students as an example of a crazy answer that turned into realities. Tom and Al were his examples. Tom was quiet and shy and Al was loud and popular.
Tom said he wanted to see in the dark with using fire and Al said he wanted to talk to people without having to shout.
When those two told people what they wanted to do, Smith said they likely got strange looks and told they were crazy because in the time period when these two existed, their ideas were crazy. He was referring to Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, and Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone.
“Think about the things that Thomas Edison had to encounter to overcome,” Smith said. “You don’t hear about Thomas Edison at the prom do you? You don’t hear about him playing football or anything of that nature. Why? Because Tom was focused. Tom wasn’t concerned about what everyone else was doing.”
Smith said that Edison failed many times as he tried to create the light bulb, but he never gave up. Edison was crazy enough to not give up.
That crazy can be found in all of the people who were a part of the 20 Under 20 Awards: the educators, the businesses and the students.
A former educator himself, Smith spoke to the teachers about how they have to being crazy because of all the different groups they have to interact with.
For other teachers, administrators, students and parents, crazy for them is nothing new.
According to Smith, they had to be crazy to work with the students who were be honored Wednesday.
“For you to see something in that student and these honorees that they probably didn’t see in themselves. To encourage them, to inspire them, to push them, even when they didn’t feel like it. You have to be crazy,” he said.
For the students, he said he understood the pressures of being in high school. While he didn’t grow up with social media, he said the pressure was something he experienced as well. But for them to go out and put in work above what was expected of them, that was crazy.
“I understand bullying,” Smith said. “I understand it’s not cool to be smart. It’s not always cool, or embraced, to do the right thing. It’s easy to blow off homework. It’s easy to run with the wrong crowd.
“But for our students to say, ‘there’s something more to life and I’m going after it,’ that takes crazy. For a student to say, ‘there are certain sacrifices I have to make. I may not be able to go to this party, I may not be able to go hang out here, I may not have to do this because I have homework. I need to go to bed early because I have to go to work tomorrow. I don’t really feel like studying but I’ve got to study. Why? Because I want something more out of life.’”
He applauded the students for taking control of their lives and recognizing the work they have to do to get to where they want to be.
He also applauded the businesses and the business leaders for taking a chance on the students.
“There’s no greater testament than for you reach into the schools, the high schools in particular, career schools, and say, ‘you know what, if this is what you want to do I’ll give you a chance. I’ll take a chance on you, I will mentor you. It’s not going to be easy, you’re going to start at the bottom and you’re going to have to prove yourself,’” he said. “That is a very difficult decision for a business man when you’re trying to make sure that your profits stay consistent, worry about everyone else and you’ve got to keep an eye on a teenager. You’re really crazy.”
To end his talk, Smith rounded back to his initial comment. He told those in attendance that if there is something they want to do, but the going gets tough, to remember that crazy people do what normal people don’t and in return get what normal people want.