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Because I Said I Would

What is a promise? Is it a statement? Is it a value? Is it something with only good intentions or does an action follow it? What does it truly mean to promise something to someone or to some entity? Merriam-Webster's essential meaning of a promise is defined in three ways: 1. A statement telling someone that you will definitely do something or that something will definitely happen in the future. 2. An indication of future success or improvement. 3. A reason to expect that something will happen in the future. The common thread in all three of those definitions is that in the future something will change or something will happen. Fundamentally, the definition of a promise could be summed up in one statement. Five words that encompass multiple definitions of the word promise: Because I said I would. 

In the summer of 2019, Anderson County schools introduced the theme for the year, “Because I said I would.” The idea behind this theme was based on a social movement and a non-profit organization dedicated to the betterment of humanity through promises made and kept. The Because I said I would founder, Alex Sheen, started this movement because of his father. In a Ted Talk Alex expresses that his father made good on his promises. He stated that if his father promised to be at his lacrosse game at 7:00, Alex could look up in the stands at 6:59 and his father would be there, waving back at him. Alex’s father passed away in 2011 from cancer and Alex was asked to give his father’s eulogy. At the funeral, Alex passed out his first Because I said I would card. This card is used to make a promise. You write a promise on a card, you give it to someone and you let them know that you’re going to get that card back. Once you fulfill that promise, you earn your card back. You then keep that card as a reminder that you are a person of your word. At the funeral, Alex made a promise that he would send out a promise card to anyone who wanted one at no cost. In a little over a year, Alex had sent out over 150,000 cards to 48 countries.

The intent of the Because I said I would initiative for Anderson County Schools was to instill in students and faculty the meaning of a promise. On opening day all around Anderson County, faculty and staff were asked to fill out two Because I said I would cards. One card was intended for personal use, and one was intended for professional growth. “I promise to push my students towards academic proficiency,” “I promise to protect my students,” “I promise to provide students with opportunities to use technology in my classroom,” “I promise to establish relationships with each student who enters my classroom” are just a few of the plethora of cards created that day. But it didn’t stop there. As the first few weeks unfolded, students at all grade levels were given the opportunity to fill out cards as well. At Emma B. Ward elementary, a bulletin board was created to display students' promises to themselves. No names were on the cards, but students walked past these cards each day and they knew which one was theirs. The constant reminder of the promise they made to themselves was ingrained in their daily walk to the cafeteria. Students and staff were being taught that their word is their bond, and that a person’s word can be etched in stone. The Anderson County board office had shirts made with the tagline “Because I said I would.” If you were to walk into a school building on Fridays during the 2019-2020 school year, odds are good you would see one of these shirts on display of a staff member. Because I said I would movement was in full swing in Anderson County. Anderson County Schools mission and vision simply states, “Safe, Prepared, Responsible.” The ins and outs of the Because I said would movement was reiterating what you can find posted all over AC schools. Students are provided with a safe environment to learn, they are prepared to achieve academic success, and they are taught to act as responsible citizens. The Because I said I would initiative, along with AC’s mission and vision, provided staff and students with the know- how to be a model citizen of Anderson

County. 

At first glance, one would think the picture to the left was the main street in Lawrenceburg. The picture you see is actually of a town called Mayfield. According to the 2020 census, this rural town in Graves county was home to about 10,000 citizens within the city limits.It’s a quiet town with a picturesque main street lined with antique shops and art galleries. Our kind of town; a town where everyone knows everyone, and people wave at the passing by of a diesel truck.  At approximately 9:27 p.m. on Friday December 10th, an EF3 tornado that had already traveled through multiple states made its way into Mayfield. The tornado ripped its way through the city streets, tossing debris miles and miles away not caring what was standing in its path. The picture to the right is what many citizens in Mayfield woke up to Saturday morning. The death toll numbers are still rising, and the destruction is unimaginable. News of the devastation traveled fast through pictures and news stories through various media outlets. 

Emma B Ward’s Family Resource Director Sarah McGaughey, a native of Western Kentucky, knew that she had to do something. She immediately started communicating with EBW’s principal about what could be done. In less than 48 hours, Emma B. Ward elementary had a plan.

Starting Monday December 13th, EBW students will be working toward their donation goal of 1,000 dollars. Students, faculty, and staff have been posed with the challenge of reaching their target goal of 1,000 dollars to send to a charitable organization in Mayfield. EBW’s PTO will match said funds collected up to 500 dollars. If the goal of 1,000 dollars is met, students will receive a reward during the school day for their charity. 

At the end of Alex Sheen’s Ted Talk, addressing the reason for his creation of the Because I said I would movement, he references a quote he thinks about every day; “You can pretend to care but you can’t pretend to show up.” One can’t help but think back to the definition of a promise, that something, in the future, will happen. Because I said I would. We can’t determine what the total amount of donations might be from EBW, but we do know that Emma B. Ward and Anderson County Schools understand a promise. Many people say that all things happen for a reason and maybe that’s true. If that’s the case, then the initiative put into place back in 2019 is coming to fruition this week, because EBW said they would.

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