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WHS celebrates "Chasing Failure" week with speaker Ryan Leak

On November 15th, WHS students & staff celebrated the start of “Chasing Failure” week in preparation of welcoming inspirational speaker Ryan Leak. The week began with WHS staff & student council members posting inspirational locker signs about failure & success on each student’s locker to generate excitement. Staff also led classroom discussions during 5th period for the remainder of the week with students that focused on the importance of having a growth mindset. A growth mindset, according to Carol Dweck, author of Mindset, “ is when people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” Lessons included short TED talks, classroom scenarios, and relatable stories about overcoming setbacks, criticisms and using hard work to find success or meet goals. Additionally, students signed a banner during lunch that is now displayed in the foyer which stated their commitment to a growth mindset and "chasing failure."  

Fresh off the “Chasing Failure” discussions, students & staff welcomed writer, filmmaker & motivational speaker Ryan Leak on Nov. 20th to talk to students about his Chasing Failure film & deliver an inspiring message of chasing dreams. Ryan’s film is about his journey and attempt to conquer his fear of failure by trying out for an NBA team, the Phoenix Suns. Originally from Rockford, IL and former high school basketball player from Christian Life High School, Ryan’s message resonated with the students of WHS. Ryan effortlessly told his story of growing up in Rockford, how he found basketball because of his fear of the “outside” elements, and ultimately how his marriage proposal to his now wife Amanda ultimately led him to chasing his dream of an NBA tryout.

His message of Chasing Failure to students was that no matter what their circumstances they shouldn’t be afraid to try something and fail. Failure is part of the success and they have the power to overcome. WHS students appreciated the time at the end of the assembly when Ryan opened it up for Q&A, which included “shout-outs” on social media and a game of one on one with WHS student Casey N.

Any student interested in ordering one of the Chasing Failure week t-shirts can print off an order form using this link: 

Order forms are also available in the WHS office or WHS Library. All orders are due Monday, Dec. 4th.  

Thank you Ryan Leak for coming and sharing your story with WHS students!

Ryan's video on Chasing Failure can be found here

Ryan's video on his Surprise Wedding can be found here. 

Ryan Leak addresses the WHS student body at the Chasing Failure Assembly on Nov. 20th. 

Ryan Leak addresses the WHS student body at the Chasing Failure Assembly on Nov. 20th. 


Ryan Leak took time after the assembly to take pictures with WHS students, pictured about is Noah H. and Megan T. 


Ryan Leak takes a picture with members of WHS Student Council. Ryan's presentation was sponsored by Student Council and the Class of 2018. 

WHS staff pose for a staff picture underneath the Chasing Failure banner that students signed throughout the week. Staff, along with Student Council, wore shirts with the quote "Failure is not the opposite of success, it's part of the success."  


200 East McNair Road
Winnebago, IL 61088

Phone: 815.335.2336
Fax: 815.335.7548

Attendance Hours: 7:50 a.m. - 3:05 p.m.
Office Hours: 7:00 a.m. - 3:45 p.m.

Principal: Ronald Gruber
Asst. Principal: Daniel Lemke
Activities Director: Will Hartje
Academic Advisor: Dana Kline Students A-L
Academic Advisor: Jennifer Brenner Students M-Z
Nurse: Mary Kate Skaggs

304 East McNair Road
Winnebago IL 61088

Phone: 815.335.2456
Fax: 815.335.7574
Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.