The reporters at the Record-Eagle surveyed the local community to find out the most powerful lessons from 2020. This is what we found. 

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer: “This year has forced all of us to confront some of the greatest challenges of our lifetimes. In light of those challenges, I have been inspired and encouraged to see Michiganders from every part of our state come together to support each other during these times of need. If there’s one lesson to learn from 2020, it’s that we are stronger when we are united. From people sewing homemade masks to local businesses stepping up to produce PPE and hand sanitizer, our state is in a much stronger position than others because we chose to work together. I’ve always said that tough times don’t last, but tough people do. As we look forward to 2021, I truly believe that each month will be better than the last. Let’s continue to work together to eliminate this virus once and for all.”

Arielle Jean, TC West senior and local skier: “You have to learn to juggle in life. But when you’re juggling, you have to understand that some things in your life are like balls of plastic and others are balls of glass, and you have to be able to tell which is which so you make sure you drop a plastic one and not a glass one. I’ve definitely learned to be able to tell what to value in my life.”

Tom Bosumra, Traverse City resident and Sara Hardy Humanitarian of the Year: “I have learned that many things out of our control — pandemics, political divisiveness, racism, climate change disaster, etc. — can knock us down ... temporarily. What’s more important, however, is how we get up. Can we rise more detached, more aware of essentials, transformed by a renewal of our values for family, democracy, inclusivity, and meaningful problem-solving versus what’s in it for me? Can we bounce back grateful for the relationships we possess rather than the possessions that own us? Can we stand again in awe and wonder at the giftedness of creation, especially as expressed in our brothers and sisters, and then live more simply that others may simply live?”

Josh Burnham, TC Central junior and top football recruit: “Always just keep pushing and don’t take no for an answer. Even if you’re told no still do everything that you can so if you get told yes then you’ll be more prepared than anybody else.”

Karen Leinaar, MHSAA Representative Council Member, Bear Lake athletic director: “Grace and patience. We have to understand what other people are dealing with, which is where grace comes in. We all live in a world where we want instant gratification and we have found over the last 10 months that it doesn’t work like that, that is where patience comes in.”

Brad Fischer, athletic director, teacher and coach at Bellaire: “That nothing is guaranteed. We were reminded that we are never fully in control and that we should appreciate all that we are able to do while doing it.”

Nathan Dzwik, East Jordan boys basketball coach: “Silver linings are everywhere, even in the worst of times.”

Kristie Collins, teacher and TC parent: “Control what you can control and try to find a positive in what you can’t control.”

Dave Hall, Kingsley volleyball coach: “Patience. Nothing is happening fast and you have to be patient with the process. Don’t stress the small stuff, there are bigger things than going to the beach and to the bar and going out to eat.”

Travis Baker, Leland volleyball assistant coach and North Shore volleyball coach: “It’s the journey, not the destination.”

Ron Stremlow, Forest Area athletic director and coach: “Never take things for granted.“

Cody Inglis, MHSAA Assistant Director: “To be kind and pick people up whenever you can. I learned the power of reaching out to people and seeing how they are doing and telling people what they really mean to you. We need that in these times.”

Joe Smokevitch, athletic director and football coach at Joburg : “Don’t take anything for granted. Anything can change at any time.”

Bryan Burns, TC Central Cross Country Coach: “Resiliency and just being flexible and our teams embodied that the entire year.“

Laurie Glass, Leland volleyball head coach: “There is power in adaptability and I think we spent a great deal of time thinking about staying in the moment and appreciating the time that we had and I think that was really important.“

Nick Redman, Boyne City resident: “Don’t wait on your bucket list.”

Eric Tunney, Grayling football coach: “Adapt and overcome.”

Asa Kelly, teacher and coach at Benzie Central: “It’s OK to slow down A little bit and savor the family time and savor those moments instead of always being rushed. Making the most of our time everyday and appreciating the time you get to spend with your family.”

Jolie King, Kingsley resident: “Family means more than any job.”

Follow Jake on Twitter @JakeAtnip

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