Tom Sauvage

As community leaders and educators consider ways to improve the community and schools, attitude, not bricks and mortar, might be the thing to strive for, according to Tom Sauvage, Pacific High School principal.

Each November, the PHS Student Council hosts the monthly Chamber of Commerce luncheon meeting to thank business leaders for supporting the school community.

Speaking to business leaders Nov. 16, Sauvage said he wanted to talk about something that was dear to his heart. He said the greatest way to improve the community might lie, not in dreaming of physical improvements, but by looking into our own hearts and greeting each other with a smile.

“A question I wrestle with from time to time is how do we make our school or our community better,” he said. “I hear comments that we would be better if only we had this or that.

“I think this and that seem like good ideas, but this or that never seem to happen.”

Sauvage said he has another idea, but it would take everyone to pitch in and make this happen.

“I propose to you today that friendliness needs to start with an attitude of each of us and that really costs us nothing monetarily,” he said.

As an example of a friendliness measure that he has carried through life, Sauvage related a story about the drive through northeast Kansas that he often experienced as a child going to visit his grandparents.

The experience stays with him to this day and even though his wife and children poke fun at him, he still sees the experience as a mark of how good life can be.

“As you travel northeast from Topeka, Kan., you’ll travel through Potowatomi County where an amazing thing starts to happen,” Sauvage said. “As we drive by each other pretty quickly because the speed limit in Kansas is a little higher than it is here, people begin to wave as you go by. As long as I can remember, this is the way it was.

“My wife and kids think I’m crazy and give me a pretty hard time when I start to wave at people when they pass by. But this is just the way it was when we would visit my grandparents and it’s still that way today.”

The affable principal, noted for his constant smile, said it costs nothing to smile or wave. He challenged school officials and business/community leaders in the room to wave to others as they pass by.

“They might just wave back,” he said. “And who knows, our schools and our city just might become a friendlier place without this or that.”

Sauvage ended his friendliness plea with a quote from Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology.

“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside dreams. Who looks inside awakens.”