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Hurricane — Ask anyone at Hurricane High School about principals Jody Rich and Roy Hoyt “going the extra mile” for students, and you’re likely to get an earful. But even close friends and family are impressed with the tandem's latest plans to go the distance for their students.
Rich, who describes himself as a “recreational rider,” will join Hoyt on the 3,059-mile bicycle trip from San Diego to St. Augustine, Fla., in just 30 days in an attempt to raise money for new computers at Hurricane junior and high schools.
I got thinking about some other things that people had done to raise money for good causes, and thought we oughta raise some money for the schools and get something out of this that can really benefit our community and our kids.
–- Roy Hoyt, principal, Hurricane Junior High School
“Originally it was we should do this, we should ride across the United States, but I never thought Jody would actually pull through on it,” Hoyt, of Hurricane Junior High, said with a chuckle. “But he said to me in December, 'I think I can do this,' so I said, ‘I’m on board, let’s do it,’ and I got thinking about some other things that people had done to raise money for good causes, and thought we oughta raise some money for the schools and get something out of this that can really benefit our community and our kids,” he explained.
The tandem set up the organization Principals Across America for Computers in Education, or PAACE, and have generated more than $7,000 towards their $30,000 goal so far, but both are quick to point out that their real motivation for the trip is to build a good rapport with students and teach valuable life lessons.
“My whole philosophy is these kids will do anything for you if they know that you love them and care about them,” said Rich, adding that “it's going to be tough, but hopefully the benefit from that for me is that I’m more compassionate, and I can better relate to these kids, and that we can help them understand the benefit from engaging in, and doing hard things and that doing whatever is necessary to get to the end of the journey is worth it.”
“Another aspect as well is that there are a lot of kids that are really sedentary, don’t move a lot and don’t eat right, and I think it’s a good example to them to get up and move and eat right. Maybe if they can see their principals get fit and eat right it will be a good example to them,” said Hoyt.
With the trip still nearly two months away, a quick sampling of the students indicates that even before the two have started their journey, they’re already meeting their goals of inspiring students. “I knew he was an avid biker, I mean he bikes to school every morning, but I didn’t know he was that hard core. It means a lot that he shows he cares for us students and his faculty and staff enough to put his body through that,” said junior Cody Lebaron.
I can't quit, there's no way, I'll die first, I mean, I've got these kids counting on me and hopefully they'll be following us on the page and blogs. I mean, money for computers is great, but the bigger message is that you can do hard things.
–- Jody Rich, principal, Hurricane High School
As for whether or not the two will actually finish their trek, Rich was quick to joke that “most people tell me I’m nuts. … I think Roy is the only one who thinks I can.” But both Hoyt and the students were quick to argue the contrary. “I talked to him and he’s kind of nervous, but it won’t faze him, he’ll push through it, ’cause he’s doing it for us,” said sophomore Audrey Valentine. “I think that he is capable of doing and finishing this, and I really admire him for going out of his way to do this for our school, it shows his character,” said junior Jordan Ence, who added, “Jody is one of the least selfish people I know, and everyone knows that he loves them.”
Noting their support, Rich concluded, “I can’t quit, there’s no way, I’ll die first, I mean, I’ve got these kids counting on me and hopefully they’ll be following us on the page and blogs. I mean, money for computers is great, but the bigger message is that you can do hard things.”
Hoyt and Rich will set off on their journey on June 8. A Facebook page has been set up for those wishing to give their support and follow the pair through their preparation and journey.
Brandon Comstock is a seminary teacher at Hurricane High. He has a bachelor's degree in business management and a master's degree in education and most of all loves his wife and three children.