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Making a Difference

by Lisa Forsythe, Webmaster

Sometimes you meet someone who leaves their mark on you. They make you think, cause you to feel something, and leave an impression that stays with you.  I've taught many students over the years, but this week I had the privilege of meeting, in a sense, three such young men.

Tyler Spann was an athlete at Lexington High School, one of our district rivals.  TSpann, as he was known, played basketball and ran track, and had just joined the Tiger football team in the summer of 2018. On a beach vacation with his family, Spann drowned after being pulled into a riptide.  About to enter his sophomore year, Spann's death hit the school and community hard. The family began a scholarship foundation in his name, one that will be given to a member of Tyler's graduating class in 2021. Even though I never actually met him, in the past few days I've learned a lot about him, and I've discovered a young man who made an impact on his community in his short time here. 

That impact continued when his class and teammate Connor Wood came up with an idea to honor TSpann's memory, and help his community out.  He challenged his longtime friend, John Droke of McNairy Central. Wood and Droke had been friends for many years, playing on the same soccer team in their early years, then against each other as they entered high school.  Both are now the kickers for their respective football teams. Wood's idea was to see which school could collect the most boxes of 24-count crayons, and give them to area schools for needy children.  Droke was all for the idea, and the competition was on.

The challenge kicked off just as we were gearing up for a snowcone sale fundraiser. My snowcone supplier, Elizabeth Cooper, had the idea to give students free toppings on their snowcones for each box of crayons donated. That propelled me to get involved in the challenge and help Droke out; plus I enjoy beating Lexington any time I can. On that first day, we collected over 250 boxes of crayons!  By the end of the game that night, we were at over 400 boxes.

Wanting to promote the challenge over fall break and get some coverage on social media, I asked Droke if he could arrange a video interview between him and Wood.  We met on the football field at Lexington High School. The friendship and respect between these two young men was instantly obvious. They joked and laughed as they talked about past soccer games, current football rivals, and colleges they've visited. We had a little fun as I asked them to explain the challenge, and how people could get involved.  After shooting the video, they were making plans to go find something to eat together, something they'd obviously done many times before.

The video below is the result of the few minutes I spent with Droke and Wood. It's a simple video, no script, no planning, just two young men talking about something they wanted to do to give back to their communities. I think you'll see and feel that these two young men are each something special.  This time, it's crayons, but I have no doubt Connor Wood and John Droke will continue to find ways to make their mark on the world, and to touch the lives of the people around them. Because of their efforts, Tyler Spann is also still making an impact on his community.  Three young men who are examples of what we as educators hope to produce, although I believe in each case their greatest teachers were and are their individual families. A simple challenge grew into something much bigger than they ever dreamed, and they've definitely left an impression on me.

If you'd like to donate crayons in Tyler Spann's memory, you can drop them off at Region's Bank on Court Square in Lexington, at MCHS in E205, or local churches in the Selmer area.  The challenge winner will be announced at kickoff of the Lexington-MCHS game on October 25.