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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Stepping Down of a Visionary

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Mrs. Picklo in center, with me left of her, at NCFL nationals last year.

Just yesterday, I celebrated with my friends, as I had won the district NCFL student congress meet and would be attending the national competition at Philadelphia.  I was full of excitement, as I would once again have the opportunity to compete nationally and enjoy the hotspots of Philadelphia.  However, today, I received some shocking, yet expected news: our forensics coach, Mrs. Picklo, was sick and no longer in a condition healthy enough to lead the speech team.  Over the past few weeks, she had to find drivers for various events because she was not able to drive, but it still came at a shock when the words, “I turned in my resignation [as the speech coach]” rang from her mouth.

I clearly remember the first year I joined forensics; I was a straggler, becoming part of the team in 10th grade.  However, it quickly became like a family and played a very meaningful part in my life.  Over the years, I have competed in commentary and student congress, attending national and state competitions.  This year, speech and student congress have been two of the things that I have acknowledged I will greatly miss next year.  They have just become such a large part of my life that it is hard to believe that they are over.  Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely excited to graduate and move on to greater horizons, but forensics is just one of those things that will always stick with me.

I am greatly convinced that without forensics, I would not be the speaker, writer, or overall scholar that I currently am.  I would have never been hired by Jeff Yalden as a teen blogger.  I probably would have never discovered the passion that I have for writing, speaking, and expressing my opinion in general.  All of the credit for this goes to one person: Mrs. Mary Jane Picklo.  

Nearly a decade ago, Mrs. Picklo, the reading teacher at my school, had a vision: to bring a forensics team to our small, rural school and turn it into something competitive and embraced by the student population.  I am happy to say that it has been just that, with five students attending the state competition and myself attending the national competition this year.  The combination of Mrs. Picklo’s leadership and the hard work of the students has taken the speech team all over the United States throughout the years.  Hundreds of people, including myself, have had their lives dramatically changed by the work of Mrs. Picklo.

Perhaps the hardest thing to believe is that Mrs. Picklo turned nothing into something.  She began her fledgling team with only two members and in the course of less than a decade, has turned it into a mature team, competitive, ambitious, and ready to win.  The school that I reside in does not have a significant budget or the funding to independently carry competitive teams.  The forensics team was created through hard work, fundraising, and great campaigning to inform students of this organization.  Despite the road bumps, the forensics team has managed to become one of the most competitive in the area, taking the amount of awards that one would only expect to be won by a much larger school.

Ironically, before hearing the announcement of Mrs. Picklo’s resignation, we held an assembly for the younger students, recruiting them to join.  Mrs. Picklo felt terrible when she revealed to us that she was no longer able to continue coaching the team because of her health.  However, she should feel anything but terrible.  We had an amazing run over the years, and none of it would have been possible without her desire to make it what it had become.  The engine has been started, and I am hoping that someone else continues to run it.

Several teachers are already being examined as possible replacements for Mrs. Picklo, but none will truly replace her with the spirit and devotion she has put in the team.  She made it clear that speech students may continue to practice in her room, even though she is not able to travel with them.  In my opinion, the most important thing at this moment is her health.  However, by the emotions that she portrayed, it was clear that the thing that bothered her the most was the fact that she would no longer coach the team; this is a true sign of a leader.  She cared more about the success of the speech team than her personal self and will still be attending the state and national competitions.  

When I leave high school, Mrs. Picklo will be one of those people that I will truly miss.  She has had such a large impact on the student population and myself.  She has taught us so much and has equipped us with skills that we would not have otherwise.  She has started something with nothing and turned it into something great.  Forensics has had such a large impact on my life, and I hope that it can continue to impact the lives of future students in my area.  I am extremely saddened by the departure of Mrs. Picklo at this time, but her health and safety should come first.  I hope that with the loss of this visionary, the team continues to thrive, and students continue to have an interest in this great program.  Mrs. Picklo, you have helped us so much over the years and put others before yourself.  It is now time for you to put your health first, and ensure that you can continue your teaching career.  Perhaps someday, you will recover well enough to begin coaching again.  May the force be with you and may the speech team continue to be as successful as it has been the last few years!
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  1. I know I can speak for the entire Shanksville Forensics team when I say Mrs. Picklo will be greatly missed. From trips to Susquehanna and Baltimore, to sharing the Force with us at Congress meets, she has definitely impacted the lives of dozens of people, even beyond Rockwood. She will be missed, and the legacy she left will set the standard high for any future coaches. May the Force be with you, Mrs. Picklo!

  2. Wow. This is so sad :( She's an amazing person. I wish her all the best and I know the force is with her<3

  3. Nice tribute. So sad..I know Marie enjoyed having her as a coach.



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