Mount Airy Middle School students got to hear a variety of perspectives on goal setting Thursday at “Dream, Believe and Achieve Day.”
According to Principal Susan Bunch, the one-hour program was staged to motivate and inspire students to work hard, set goals, dream big and never give up. Students heard from guest speakers Mount Airy Police Chief Dale Watson, Todd Perry, Bill and Michelle Juno and Mount Airy High School Senior Jared Jenkins as well as special guest Betty Lynn (who played Thelma Lou on the Andy Griffith Show).
“As you consider your path I encourage you to ask what are your interests,” said Bill Juno. “The main thing is the difference we make in the community and in other people’s lives.” Juno and his wife, Michelle, are the local franchise owners of several Subway restaurants in the area. He talked briefly about how Fred DeLuca, who founded the company, approached Peter Buck, anticipating the physicist would advance him money for college.
Juno explained Buck instead became a partner with DeLuca with the fledgling restaurant chain originally named Pete’s Subs in honor of Buck. The duo later renamed the restaurants Subway because of the proximity to the New York subway system.
“Nobody has a perfect life but experience and belief in what we (Subway) were doing helped build us into a great structure,” said Juno. “Buck and DeLuca are still partners. I hope something I’ve said today will spark someone’s interest today.”
Juno’s wife spoke next to students assembled in the gym. She encouraged them to be passionate in whatever field they chose to go into. She said the achievers go up, over and beyond and that makes the difference.
“Don’t be embarrassed to do whatever it takes to go above and beyond,” she said. “Ninety-nine percent of it (success) is a positive attitude. Think I can do it. Reach for your goals and don’t let people who don’t support what you want to do put you down. I love people and I like food. I never thought I’d be a sandwich artist but after 20 years in this there’s still a new experience each day. Don’t limit yourself. Go for it.”
Police Chief Dale Watson told the students their lives right now was similar to a new car buyer choosing what options would be included in their vehicle.
“Be sure the options you get will get you to where you need to be,” said Watson. “Don’t be disheartened. Sometimes your life can be less than favorable but you must get beyond that.” He told them about how early in his life his family suffered from substance abuse and domestic violence. Watson said interventions eventually led him to being accepted into a new household with expectations for him that helped him to believe in himself and follow a positive role model.
“If I can overcome what I did and not let any obstacles define me so can you.” He told students to never run from a challenge, to occasionally break out of their comfort zone, to never view difficulty as a set back and that leadership is about serving everyone.
“I always pull for the underdog,” said Watson. “I challenge each of you to make a positive difference in your life and the lives of others. It isn’t always easy to do right but right will lead you to where you need to be.”
Dr. Todd Perry, who is the medical director of Primecare Express for Novant Health in Winston-Salem, spoke next to the students.
“The point is not so much about what I’ve done,” said Perry. “I’m here to say I believe in you. I’ve been where you are sitting now although not in this exact school.” He told students about how close bonds in small communities should teach them whatever they do will always find its way to someone back home.
“I want you to give 1,000 percent in everything you do and do the right thing,” said Perry. “You are not your father, mother or uncle. The only one going to stand in the way of you doing something is you. We live in a society where the feeling is ‘I’m not going to do anything for anybody unless they do something for me.’ Don’t be like that and don’t give up on yourself.”
Jenkins encouraged the students to set their goals high and commit themselves to their studies. He told them they will have to earn everything they get in life.
“Don’t wish it away,” said Jenkins. “Cherish each moment you will have in high school. My experience has been amazing. High school is one of the best experiences you will ever have in your life.”
Actress Betty Lynn answered questions from students for the remainder of the program. She told them about starting in the entertainment field as a performer when she was 14 years old and how she began in dance at the age of 5. She told them how excited she was when she learned she was being considered for a part in the Andy Griffith Show.
“They (fellow cast mates) were all so talented,” said Lynn. “That doesn’t happen often. They were all so nice and considerate of me. A lot of actors think they can do it all but it’s a lot better with good writers which you interpret as best you can.”
Lynn also told the group actor Hal Smith (Otis on the show) never drank alcohol but “played the best drunk” in the show and told them how directors would tell Frances Bavier (Aunt Bee) to slow down because she moved too fast in front of the camera. She told the group Don Knotts was a serious actor who only made people laugh when he worked and Griffith was surprised he got the straight man role in the series.
“I hope all of you get to watch the show. There’s a lot to be learned from it,” said Lynn, who admitted she did not like many new television shows with the exception of “The Middle.”
“They say the pendulum goes back and forth in life. Perhaps that will be the way with TV. There was good thoughts, sweetness and light humor in the Andy Griffith show. I hope it will still be playing for you when your children are growing up.”
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 336-719-1952.