HANCOCK - The definition of passion is something different to each person, and Dr. Philip Johnson wanted to impress on the students of Hancock Central High School gathered in the school auditorium Monday how important it was for them to identify their passions.
Johnson, who is president of Finlandia University and the opening speaker for the high school's "Find Your Passion" week of events, said definitions for the word passion can be found in many places, but each person has to figure out what passion is for him or herself.
"Passion is a sense of feeling deeply about something," he said.
Kurt Hauglie/Daily Mining Gazette
Dr. Philip Johnson, president of Finlandia University, speaks about passion and what it means to different people Monday in the Hancock Schools auditorium to open the Hancock Central High School Thematic Week, which this year is “Find Your Passion.”
Johnson suggested rather than use the word "Find" in the theme for the week, other words, such as follow, discover or uncover be used.
When Johnson asked the students in the audience if any of them had found their passion, yet, relatively few hands were raised. He said those who hadn't found something they were passionate about shouldn't be too concerned.
"Passion is something that unfolds gradually," he said.
Johnson said some people may be reluctant to make their passion or passions public because to do so may require putting oneself "out there," but that's a good thing.
"To be passionate is to be dangerous," he said.
Johnson said not everyone will be able to make a living with their passions, but they shouldn't be ignored.
"Consider the things you love to do," he said.
Hancock Central High School Principal John Sanregret said the high school has been conducting its thematic weeks for about 10 years. Other themes included water, copper and food.
This year's events for "Find Your Passion" were funded by a $1,300 grant from the Keweenaw Community Foundation, which Sanregret said was an important contribution to the program.
Sanregret said each year's theme is chosen by the faculty and staff at the school.
"We try to pick something we think is important for (the students)," he said.
One of the reasons for having thematic weeks is to let students know there may be opportunities for a career not related to high tech, or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields.
"I'm all for STEM, but it's not for all kids," he said.
Focusing on channeling all students into STEM-related fields may mean the needs of students not intending to go into those fields have not been fully met, Sanregret said.
Besides Johnson, Sanregret said Dr. Susan Amato-Henderson, associate professor of cognitive and learning sciences at Michigan Technological University would also speak Monday about the psychology of passion. There were teacher presentations on the topic in the classrooms, also. Other events during the week include: Today - Mini-sessions on hobbies and services; Wednesday - Outdoor and wellness activities at the Tech Student Development Complex, as well as department and campus tours at Tech; and Thursday - Mini sessions on professions and a student passion/talent show.
Johnson said although some people may discover their passions early in life, for others it could come as a sudden revelation much later, and that's alright.
"There's not a set route for us," he said. "Passion is something that takes effort. It takes work."
Johnson said finding a passion, which can be useful in providing service to others, will benefit not only the individual, but other people, also.
"Passion actually matters," he said.