AUBURN – Auburn High School was recognized at the Olympic training center at Lake Placid, New York, this summer as the national Human Performance Project and Life Of An Athlete program of the year.
Principal Marty Hughes said Auburn established the cultural icon, “The Bulldog Way,” last year. It is based on John Underwood’s research, which is used by Olympic sports and the military to encourage peak performance.
Hughes: “It’s not a certain program that they use, but they give you principles to go by, scientific principles, such as sleep. What is proper sleep and what does lack of sleep do to you?”
For Auburn, Hughes said, the Bulldog Way was a combination of culture and climate that resulted in a positive atmosphere in school activities.
Hughes: “For us, the Bulldog Way is an education. It’s a way of life. It’s a healthy lifestyle. It’s about peak performance, about a positive culture and climate.”
Hughes said it made a notable impact on the school.
Hughes: “We didn’t expect this, but our school, we were contacted by this program and they said you have been selected as the national program of the year. They said what we had accomplished in one year had never been done before. We were elated by it.”
Auburn students walked in a parade with Olympic athletes, visited the hockey rink where the US defeated the Soviet Union in 1980 and gave presentations to other schools around the nation.
Hughs said the Life Of An Athlete Program has changed ideals about nutrition, sleep and positivity.
Hughes: “You know, the thing is, I think in a school it all starts with relationship. If you establish that, kids can learn. If you bring in the proper sleep , the proper nutrition, how to be a great teammate … you know these are things we are teaching kids. I don’t know if they are being taught anywhere else, but I know in our school they are.”
He said the Bulldog Way is not just something for students, but for the staff, administration and whole community. He has been encouraged to see parents posting a photo to social media with the hash tag Bulldog Way.
Hughes: “We just made people feel good about themselves. The other thing is the success that came from it was part of that Bulldog Way. The vision we saw was, ‘hey, let’s compete on a high level. Let’s have high expectations in our classroom. Let’s have high expectations in our school. And the kids loved it.”
Hughes’ own interactions with students, whether they come to see him or he goes to see them, is on a positive level. “It’s the Bulldog Way,” he said.
At Lake Placid students and leaders developed seven pillars for the Bulldog Way. They are: