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Heroes of Neenah

Posted on by Future Neenah

leiton humans hero-Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Jr,  Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa. These are among the most influential and well known heroes of the last century. But, on a more communal scale, we have our own Ghandi, someone that pushes the community and himself to be better. An impactful hero by the name of Anthony Leiton.

Leiton, a Fox Valley Tech graduate of 1999 with a degree in fire protection, was born in Neenah, Wisconsin, and has lived in Menasha, Wisconsin for the majority of his life. Working as a firefighter demands both physical and mental strength. Because of this fortitude, Leiton has gained tremendous amounts of knowledge and respect from both the community and his peers, but has had to give up plenty as well, saying, “ The work schedule is 24 hours at a time, and we work weekends and holidays, so working the nontraditional work schedule I’ve had to let go of going out with friends and missing family events, that sort of thing.” The personal sacrifice he has made over the years proves he is a hero, putting the community before himself. But, with all of the pressures of his occupation comes stress. Fortunately, everyone on his team has found ways to manage it by having fun on the job, stating: “ I work with a bunch of goofballs. However, when it’s time to go, these guys are great.” It is important that a hero not only takes their job earnestly, but it is reasonably as important  not to let their heroism affect their day to day lives, which is what Mr. Leiton has done in every respect.

Being thrown into the workforce two days after graduating from college, Leiton was not always in the position that he is now. Starting out scrubbing toilets and doing other dirty work, he worked his way up, pointing out: “ It’s a seniority based job, meaning the more years you have on, that’s how you progress in the profession.” Not only did he work his way up, but he learned from his more experienced co-workers stating: “ I learned everything from this job. Starting from the very bottom, as a twenty year old kid, I really looked up to the guys that were senior to me. They almost became kind of like uncles, (in the sense) that they taught you everything.” This goes to show that people, even the most heroic and influential ones, do not fight their battles alone, because after all, heroes don’t need to have capes and super powers.

At first glance, Leiton might not look like your average hero, but to him an individual’s heroism is measured by their qualities, pointing out: “ I don’t think that it takes those ‘superhero’ qualities to make a difference. . . There are three things that you can do. One of them is to contribute. Find a way to contribute, and you can really make a difference. Another one is effort. . . Anyone can do it. It doesn’t require talent to give a hundred percent. The last one is empathy. To put yourself in someone else’s shoes, think about others.” Judging by his actions and selflessness, Mr. Leiton, a true hero, consistently puts others before himself. This is truly what will make or break a hero. For him, heroism is not a job or an occupation, but instead a lifestyle. For example, on his time off, Mr. Leiton volunteers to help with personal training at the Neenah YMCA. Through personal training, he has met, trained, and befriended a woman with MS. Leiton has been known to call her, visit her, and even buy her meals at a favorite local restaurant over the last thirteen years, all when he has free time on his hands. This goes to show that every waking hour that Mr. Leiton lives he is dedicated to helping others and improving their well-being, even if it means that he himself may not be in the best condition.

Ever since college graduation in 1999, Mr. Anthony Leiton has been dedicated to the community and the people in it persistently; and all though his heroism might be unsung, his impact has not gone unnoticed.

 – Article by NHS Arete Student Zachary Schmitt

debbie griffith heroes

What qualities make someone a hero? Most people would not categorize themselves into this lofty group. Why is that? Are we too humble? Has the media altered the meaning of the word into an unrealistic, costume wearing, human with superpowers? According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, a hero is a “person admired for achievements and noble qualities.” There are thousands, maybe billions of people who deserve to be called heroes but often live their whole lives not knowing they are held in such high esteem by others. Debbie Griffith is a shining example of those who deserve our appreciation. She has touched the hearts and minds of hundreds of people through generously providing her time and funding throughout the Fox Valley. In the eyes of the people she has affected she is noble and has achieved vast amounts of good deeds. By accomplishing this, she has earned the name Hero.

Debbie was born in Chicago, Illinois, and grew up in Hammond, Indiana. She recalls her childhood as being normal while being raised during the 40’s and 50’s. Being the oldest of five children she babysat often for extra money. She was a part of Girl Scouts, and played the oboe in the school’s band until graduating from school. As she grew up, she found going to church every Sunday and Wednesday to be fundamental necessity.

When Debbie graduated high school most women went into careers such as secretaries, nurses, or teachers. Debbie knew that she wanted to become a teacher and decided to pursue this career. She attended Indiana State Teacher’s college in Terre Haute, Indiana, for four years and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. There she met Mr. Kelly who was an exceptionally inspirational professor to her “because he would talk about Aristotle and Plato and those kinds of people. He was relating it to our lives now. And what their thinking was and how it was now… I loved going to his class because he made it so interesting.” Debbie was engaged to her husband during her senior year of college and they both graduated a week apart from each other in June. A week later they were married.

She encountered few troubles while trying to find a job soon after graduating. Debbie shared a story of her encounters while searching for her dream job during this time. “I applied to teach in the Neenah Joint School District but as soon as I started the interview in May, the superintendent inquired “you’re getting married?” I replied, “yes” he said, “we don’t hire married women.” … So I went to Appleton and I got a job, no problem… Of course things are different now.” She still had a love for all students of all school districts in the Fox Valley and thinks that it is a wonderful place to raise a family. She enjoys attending the programs put on by the students and schools in the community.

Debbie is a tremendous example of what many of us hope to be at our best–someone who is unassuming, yet exudes positivity through her selfless acts. As part of the Educational Foundation of Neenah she feels strongly enough about making the world a better place for this and future generations that she personally supports innovative educational practices. She truly is an unsung hero whose impact is felt by thousands of students throughout the Neenah Joint School District .

- Article by NHS Arete Student Elise Cannon

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