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Academy of Achievement: ATV Curriculum Wednesday, November 4, 1998 Center Risk-Taking: An Ingredient for Success Student Handout BACKGROUND PROGRAM GUEST "As you go the way of life, you will see a great chasm. Jump. It is not as wide as you think." SUSAN (From a Native American initiation tradition.) BUTCHER Susan Butcher This ATV program on the nature of risk brings admits she hasn't together student leaders from high schools paid much across the United States and a distinguished attention to the panel: Susan Butcher, David Halberstam, Jack Winter Olympics. Horner, Richard Rainwater, William Sessions, "Actually not," and Dr. Nancy Wexler. she said by phone from Fairbanks, Risk is defined by the dictionary as the Alaska. "We exposure to danger and the chance of injury, don't have any TV out there." loss or failure. On the surface it would appear to be something to be avoided. It is only "Out there" is Eureka, a village northwest natural to take comfort in the appearance of of Fairbanks near the Yukon River where certainty and permanence. But such a there not only is no television but no conservative stance may itself be a risk. The phone and no freeways. No foolin'. Out reluctance to act might mean the risk of lost there, the Winter Olympics seem a bit opportunity. tame. Butcher, 33, does her thing without flags or fanfare and does it better The panelists argue that the key to success is in than anyone else on earth. She never finding the passion of one's life. Risk should wanted to figure skate in a frilly costume be seen as a challenge. Iditarod champion, the size of a snowflake or ride a luge in a Susan Butcher, points out that the issue should plastic leotard. not be the fear of failure or even the fear of death. The issue should be determining how to All she ever wanted to be was the live. world's top sled dog musher, and she is - certainly a woman apart from her peers, FOCUS QUESTIONS male and female. After winning the After watching the program, respond to these Iditarod race from Anchorage to Nome questions either by writing in your personal the last two years, Butcher's place in the journal or through discussion in a small group pantheon of mushing is assured. She'll of your fellow students. Answer from your try for three in a row, starting March 5. own experience. Butcher, who raced in her first Iditarod in 1978, has finished in the top five 1. What is risk? every year since '80, except in '85. That 2. How does risk taking affect family year she was leading in the early stages and friends? when she met a moose on the trail. It 3. What is regret? wasn't Bullwinkle. Normally, a moose will amble off at the approach of a "EVERYBODY SAYS DON'T" human, but this one was looking for When faced with a risk, one always seems to trouble. A few frantic minutes later, two be surrounded by voices of advice and of Butcher's dogs were dead, others negativity. This sometimes frustrating injured and she was out of the race... experience is expressed in the song "Everybody Says Don't." (It is published by "You have to be very selfless in your the Stephen Sondheim/Burthen Music Co. and dedication to your dogs. When you come is from the musical "Anyone Can Whistle.") A into a checkpoint, although there may be few of the lyrics are: a wood stove to warm your feet by, you stay outside, you take care of your dogs, "Everybody says don't get them bedded down and fed. It may Page: 1 Academy of Achievement: ATV Curriculum Wednesday, November 4, 1998 Center Everybody says don't. take three hours. "Then you can go have Everybody says don't; it isn't right. your 15 minutes inside, and then it's time Don't; it isn't nice... to go check your dogs, massage them down and get ready to go again. I might get a catnap." At a pace of 8 or 9 m.p.h., Don't walk on the grass. "You do some riding that can be fairly Don't disturb the peace. relaxing but the majority of it you're Don't skate on the ice. either pumping with one leg or running," Butcher said. "The most strenuous is going over the rough terrain and having Well I say do! to steer the sled, which weighs from 150 I say walk on the grass! to 200 pounds with all the gear in it. It was meant to feel! Throwing the sled around is as I say sail! exhausting as pumping or running. Tilt with the windmill! And if you fail, you fail... Butcher, an athletic 5 feet 6 inches and 135 pounds, was raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but explained, "This is Everybody says don't get out of line. the life I chose." Her best lead dogs are When they say that then, Granite and Tolstoy, each of whom has Lady that's a sign lead her to recent, victories. Nine time out of ten Lady you're doing just fine... Like all the Alaskan Huskies, Butcher said, "They live to race. They like the competition. They understand the Make just a ripple. competition. They want to pass the teams Come on be brave. ahead of them. They know when there This time a ripple. are no dogs on the trail ahead of them. Next time a wave. "The biggest problem is slowing them Sometimes you have to start small. down. In 1986, I ran four races. That's Climbing the tiniest wall. more races than any long-distance racer Maybe you're going to fall. has ever run, and I now know why - But it's better than not starting at all... 2,250 miles of races, which didn't include my 3,000 miles of training. I say don't, don't be afraid!" "Only one dog ran all four races, but many of them ran three. I was going into my fourth race thinking, gosh, I'm really So much is missing from the song when a few burnt out, so these dogs must be real lyrics are written on paper. Listen to a burnt out, too. "It was a 350-mile race, recording of it; Barbra Streisand has recorded and I had absolutely no control of that the song on her 1993 album entitled, "Back to team. I could not get them to stop. I was Broadway." What is it about this arrangement hooking trees with our snow hook, and of the music that adds to the meaning of the they were tearing them over. This team lyrics? was just crazy to go. They wanted to see what's around the next corner. They As a class, in a brainstorming exercise, wanted to race. develop a list of other songs or pieces of music that offer encouragement and inspiration. [i.e. "You have to run all of them at the same Military Marches, The Overture of 1812, or time. You need only one to three dogs to religious music.] Select a song and rewrite the pull you and the sled and the gear, so it's lyrics so they reflect your own life. The way overkill, and you have all this rewritten version could be either be sung for immense amount of power. You've got the class or recited as a poem. nothing but a voice command. There are no reins or anything. It's all 'gee' for For a twist to this assignment, compare these right, 'haw' for left, 'whoa.' melodies to a song or piece of music that uses a different mood and tone. Listen, for example, "You couldn't take Fifi the poodle out of to Bruce Springsteen's "The Streets of somebody's apartment in New York and Philadelphia." expect her to run the Iditarod, but you Page: 2 Academy of Achievement: ATV Curriculum Wednesday, November 4, 1998 Center sure as heck could take one of these dogs Extension idea: Invite the choir director in to that was raised from a puppy. They're teach/direct the songs studied by the class. ready for the Iditarod, and they just love What possibilities exist for a public it." performance? BIOGRAPHY Imagine yourself as one of the following risk takers. We now know their successes and failures. But place yourself in their frame of mind at sixteen years old. As a teenager, what imagined hopes and dreams does this future hero have? Write a journal/diary entry from his or her point of view. It could begin: "Dear Diary, today, on my sixteenth birthday I had the greatest idea. I am going to dedicate my life to..." Neil Armstrong Kathleen Battle Larry Bird Rita Dove Jodi Foster Bill Gates Ruth Bader Ginsberg Whoopi Goldberg Sir Edmund Hillary Judith Jamison Jackie Joyner-Kersee Spike Lee Ursala K. LeGuin Charles A. Lindbergh Greg Louganis George Lucas Christa McAuliffe Rosa Parks Jeannette Rankin Jackie Robinson Eleanor Roosevelt Heather Whitestone Now that you have looked through the eyes of someone else. Imagine your own life. Write your autobiography from the perspective of being 90 years old. CAREER CORNER Careers are full of risks that offer challenges and opportunities for people with a variety of interests, talents, skills and abilities. A small sampling is listed below. Pick one that interests you and explore it as a career possibility. What does the person do on a daily basis? What educational background and work experience is necessary? Where is the work done? What risks are built into the job? What are the rewards? What effect is technology expected to have on that field? You may be surprised by what you find! Architect Cultural Anthropologist Cartographer Chemist Computer Programmer Consumer Activist Curator Dietitian Diplomat Film Maker Geophysicist Graphic Designer Page: 3 Academy of Achievement: ATV Curriculum Wednesday, November 4, 1998 Center Journalist Medical Technician Minister Public Relations Social Worker Soldier Teacher Web Designer SURFING THE INTERNET Begin to explore the Internet by trying one or more of the sites listed below: >Federal Bureau of Investigation > iDog: Iditarod Daily Online Guide >The UC Museum of Paleontology >The University of Montana > Using Computers to Uncover the Past PROGRAM GUESTS (Cont'd) DAVID HALBERSTAM The son of a surgeon and a schoolteacher, David Halberstam was born in New York City on April 10, 1934. His father, who served in the Army, traveled from one post to another throughout the country, and the family followed him around. The family moved to Connecticut, where in grammar school Halberstam competed for high grades with Ralph Nader. As a student at Roosevelt High School in Yonkers, David Halberstam was a member of the track team and worked on the school newspaper. When he graduated in 1951, he entered Harvard University. He later became the managing editor of the Harvard Crimson. Having enjoyed his job as a reporter and believing that the racial question would develop into the major issue of the day, he went to work for the West Point (Mississippi) Daily Times Leader. In April 1956 he took a job on the Nashville Tennessean. In the fall of 1960 Halberstam had joined the Washington bureau of the New York Times, for which he helped to report on the inauguration of John F. Kennedy. Halberstam was assigned to South Vietnam by the Times in September 1962. Almost from the beginning he encountered an official policy of optimism about the war, and within a month he began accompanying Vietnamese troops and their American advisers on military operations in the Mekong Delta. News of the deteriorating situation in Vietnam, reported by Halberstam and Neil Sheehan of United Press International was attacked by the American mission in Saigon, the Pentagon, and the White House as inaccurate, biased, irresponsible, and sensationalized. For his reporting in Vietnam, Halberstam was named winner of a 1963 George Polk Memorial Award and shared a 1964 Pulitzer Prize. Halberstam left Vietnam after about 15 months JOHN R. HORNER John Horner is Professor of Paleontology at Montana State University. He has unearthed more dinosaur fossils than anyone in history. Professor Horner discovered his first dinosaur fossil at age Page: 4 Academy of Achievement: ATV Curriculum Wednesday, November 4, 1998 Center eight, became interested in science, but felt that science courses were nearly impossible to pass. He flunked out of college seven times. At age 31, he discovered that his academic problem was a severe case of dyslexia. Two years later, discovered the first intact dinosaur eggs ever found in North America, then was the first to find fossils of baby dinosaurs in their nests. He later uncovered the largest deposit of fossilized bones of a single species of dinosaur to be discovered anywhere in the world, in one of the most remarkable finds in the history of vertebrate paleontology. Professor Horner's interpretive insights have revolutionized our understanding of dinosaurs. RICHARD E. RAINWATER Richard Rainwater is a legendary financial dealmaker from Fort Worth, Texas. The son of a wholesale grocer, he graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in mathematics and earned his MBA from Stanford. He landed a job as an investment banker, but soon accepted an invitation from former Stanford classmate Sid Bass to manage and diversify his family portfolio. Richard became the chief financial architect for the Bass family investments, which launched an incredible saga in American business history. He was given $5 million to invest during his first year and managed to lose it all, then sought an investment strategy and applied his scientific mind to his quest. Richard became a "perpetual-motion deal machine" and the "best-kept secret in high finance" as he propelled the family fortune to more than $5 billion while creating one of the great American dynasties of the 20th century. In 1986 he launched his own business, investing in more than 30 companies and purchasing one million square feet of office space in Texas. Richard Rainwater has been heralded as the "capitalist cowboy for the '90s, leading the way into new frontiers of finance." THE HONORABLE WILLIAM S. SESSIONS In his first contact with the press since being elevated from relative obscurity to national attention Friday, William Steele Sessions relished a reporter's description of him as "a West Texas tough guy." But the FBI director-designate quickly quipped that "I don't wear a gun belt and I don't have any cowboy boots to my name." The banter provided a telling exchange that showed how the Republican federal judge can at once maintain his hard-line courtroom stands and appeal to judicial observers from the other end of the political spectrum. His well-earned reputation as a law-and-order conservative has not stemmed the flow of high praise from the other ideological extreme where his commitment to fairness has been pointedly noted. Despite his political leanings, he has ruled in favor of civil rights plaintiffs in major cases and has not been afraid to take on powerful members of the Texas Establishment. "I dare say we probably wouldn't agree on a single political issue, but I probably would have rather tried a case in his court than any judge I felt a kinship with ideologically," said Gerald H. Goldstein of San Antonio, general counsel of the Texas Civil Liberties Union. To Sessions, his steely reputation is the product of a career devoted to hard work, not the hard right. "If I'm a West Texas tough guy, it's simply because we've dealt with difficult problems...drug and immigration problems. Whether you are a judge or whether you are involved in prosecution or defense, these are very difficult times," he said. While claiming that he has "a wealth of ignorance about running the FBI," he demonstrated Friday that he appreciates the revolutionary changes the bureau has undergone since he left Washington in 1971 and the challenges he faces in "turf wars" and other problems within the agency. Page: 5 Academy of Achievement: ATV Curriculum Wednesday, November 4, 1998 Center When asked if this would be a particularly difficult time to take over the FBI, Sessions replied: "I would think not. It's the natural function in a free society - people seeking to see what's going on in their government." His reputation for fairness - the quality that has gained him such wide respect - may be the most effective tool he has in dealing with the problems at the FBI. In his meeting with reporters Friday, he stressed a strong commitment to protecting citizens' constitutional rights. "I'm very aware, keenly aware, of Fourth, Fifth, First, Sixth Amendment rights," he said. "These are the things judges are made of." Moreover, he is regarded highly for judicial management skills that can be applied to the FBI post. Interviews of lawyers who have practiced before Sessions, judges who serve alongside him and Justice Department veterans who portray him as a take-charge jurist who insists on "personal accountability." He is especially tough when sentencing those convicted of crimes that challenge the "integrity of the process," such as perjury or obstruction of justice. Sessions was described by friends and associates as a devoted outdoorsman and sometime mountain climber who keeps a book about Texas' rugged Guadalupe Mountains next to a volume about Abraham Lincoln. "He's just a real straight arrow," said James W. Blagg, a San Antonio attorney and former federal prosecutor. "He will treat you courteously but he strives to avoid any kind of even appearance of impropriety in everything he does." Sessions earned both his undergraduate and law degrees from Baylor University. Before coming to Washington, he practiced law in Waco, Texas. He served in the Air Force from 1951 to 1955. Sessions was born in Fort Smith, Arkansas, on May 27, 1930, and is married with four children. Two sons are lawyers in San Antonio, the third works for AT&T. His youngest child, daughter Sarah, is a ballet dancer. NANCY WEXLER, Ph.D. Nancy Wexler is Professor of Clinical Neuropsychology at Columbia University in New York City. Her mother and uncles were afflicted by Huntington's disease, an inherited brain disorder that impairs nerve control and thinking (victims are unable to walk, stand or even speak intelligibly). She made her life's work the search for the single, dominant gene that killed her mother, and which she has a 50-50 chance of having herself. Dr. Wexler went on to spearhead an international scientific effort that led, a year ago, to the discovery of the gene that causes Huntington's. She has also become the leading expert on the traumas associated with genetic testing. Dr. Wexler is the recipient of the highest honor in American medicine for "groundbreaking research and for increasing awareness of all genetic disease." Page: 6
"Risk-Taking An Ingredient for Success"