Success through Failure

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The Everlasting Value of the Skating Rink that Wasn’t


“Too often, in our modern society, children and youth (and even young adults) are lead to believe, and in fact seem to live under the assumption, that success inevitably happens if you just try hard.” 


 Our students, replete with groomed cross country ski trails, a toboggan hill, and acres upon acres to build snow forts decided it would be fantastic if they also had a skating rink.  Our teaching team supported their desire for more activity because we know, that the physical challenge, peer teaching, and resilience that would happen skating on an ice rink would further strengthen our school community.

However, it is admittedly something that I nor any of our teaching staff knew anything about.  So it was mentioned to a few parents and one Dad became the ‘ice captain’, tasked with building Headwaters Academy’s first ice rink.

Numerous strategy sessions ensued and a preliminary plan of action was decided upon.  The pond was checked for ice depth – as the pond has a very active spring the ice wasn’t going to be thick enough to satisfy the school principal.  So an idea was hatched to build the rink 300′ to the south of the pond and children were tasked to clear and ‘plow’ the snow.  

At this point a more experienced rink building Dad entered the scene (he had the water pump needed!) and a site level was used to determine that this area would not, in fact, work.  One of our students shared that his Dad had a ‘Zamboni’ (this turned out to be a bucket with holes in it with a broom attached) and the Dad team grew.  So too did the complexity and knowledge of the task and a rink liner was brought in.

The pavilion was cleared of picnic tables and snow, by Dads and children, and flooding began.  An assumption was made that the pavilion was level – as a fourth Dad (tasked with building cushions for the posts) discovered, this was not the case and, unless we get another full month of cold, it is unlikely that the children will skate at Headwaters this year.

Headwaters Academy couldn’t be more pleased with either the effort of our students and this team of Dads or with the outcome.

Too often, in our modern society, children and youth (and even young adults) are lead to believe, and in fact seem to live under the assumption, that success inevitably happens when you work hard.  The truth is that effort is a prerequisite to success but success itself usually takes more than one attempt.  Further, if success came with just one attempt you might want to look in the mirror and decide if you’re challenging yourself enough.

Society celebrates those who succeed but we inexplicably miss the chance to celebrate failure.  We, at Headwaters, want our students to taste failure – and, in fact, to taste failure more often than success because that is reality.  Excellence never occurs on the first attempt, and, in fact, it rarely occurs on the second either.  Success is sweet but it is built on the back of first trying, then failing, and getting back up and trying again.

Thank you Richard, Michael, Dennis, and Ian.  You have given all of our children a tremendous gift.  We have no doubt that this rink will become a reality – and it will be the all more sweet because we all had to try, and try again, and then try again, and finally try once more to make it a reality.





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