Thankful for Each of You – Mr. Cox

Good morning Spartans!

I hope this email finds you doing well and looking forward to a break for Thanksgiving! We are so thankful to have you here, and for the opportunity to be a part of your life.

I encourage you to take the time this week to hug the people that matter in your life, and to let them know how thankful you are for them. I encourage you to take the time to be thankful for what you have, and not to focus on all that you may wish you had. No matter our situation, our mind set is determined by what we let our mind dwell on. I encourage you to let your mind dwell on what is good and right in your life.


I am personally thankful for the sunrise (see image above) that I get to see each morning on my way to work during these months, and I am thankful for the time that I get to spend with each of you. There are things all around us that we should be thankful for regardless of what is going on in our lives. I am hopeful that each of you will be able to stop and appreciate those things in your life, and that you will take the time to thank the people who make a difference in your life.

Smile a lot over break, and spend your time doing things that make your heart smile. Thank you for being awesome, and thank you for making our lives better here at Garden Spot.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Mr. Elias M. Cox

Assistant Principal
Garden Spot High School

Thoughts from Mr. Cox – March

Good morning Spartans!

Djurgården, May 19, 2014
Ulf Bodin via Compfight

It is hard to believe that April is already at our doorstep… it has been an awesome year so far, but that is no surprise when we get to spend each day surrounded by such wonderful people. Mr. Sanger and I appreciate your sense of humor, the respect you show for your peers and teachers, and your perseverance in the face of many struggles that you face each day. We appreciate the grace that you show to one another, always remembering that it is often those who are the most offensive who need our patience and kindness the most. On the days when you feel least like doing so be sure to smile, to laugh, and to be kind… it has a way of changing your perspective. Go outside and enjoy the plants as they bloom, jump in a puddle, dance in the rain, roll down a big hill, find reasons to be happy… you cannot change most of what happens in your life, but you can choose how you respond to those things. It is your response that determines your happiness, and your dedication to never giving up on the things you can control, no matter how hard they seem, that allows you to make it through the difficult times a stronger person.

The March Spartan Way trait of the month is having a positive attitude. In every situation you determine how you respond. In every situation it is your response that determines the outcome. When you experience difficult situations you decide how to respond, and your response can either create the possibility that things will improve, or make it unlikely to improve. If you want tomorrow to be a little better, you have to do things that have the chance of making it a little better. Humans often complain about their life while responding to life in a way that isn’t likely to make tomorrow any better. It is also true that you can do everything right and still have tomorrow not be any better. The reality is that having a positive attitude, and never giving up, is the only way that makes it possible for tomorrow to be a little better. If you live your life with a positive attitude it is likely that tomorrow will be a little better, next week a little better, six months from now a little better, next year a little better… you get the point. Approach life with a positive attitude, choose to respond in ways that can lead to a better tomorrow, and never give up. There is no one immune to bad things happening to them, but those with a positive attitude will always find it easier to maneuver through those difficult times. Having a positive attitude also makes it more likely that others will want to be around you, and those relationships will help lift you up when you are struggling. Your attitude is your choice, and I encourage you to choose to have a positive attitude. You deserve it…

Thank you for being awesome, Garden Spot!

Have a great Friday, and wonderful weekend,

Mr. Cox

Thoughts from Mr. Cox – February

Good morning everyone!

What a wonderful morning it is… watching the sun rise and colors spread across the sky as darkness turns to daylight always puts a smile on my face. We can get so busy that we fail to notice the beauty that surrounds us every day. Each of you have the same effect on me… putting a smile on my face. Thank you for being awesome!

The Spartan Way characteristic of the month for February was personal accountability, and as I reflected on what that entails I had a few thoughts I’d like to share with you. It seems to me that our world is embarking on a trend which is to find someone else to blame when things do not go our way, and that is a dangerous mindset. Instead of looking first for someone else to blame (teacher, parent, boss, coach), ask yourself what you could do to be more prepared in the future? If I did poorly on a test my parents always asked me what I needed to do to prepare better for the next one. I, of course, wanted to blame it on the teaching style, wording of the questions… anything but lack of preparation.

CC Xenja Santarelli via Compfight

We are all accountable for our own actions, and looking for someone else to blame may make us feel better, but it does not help us improve moving forward. There will always be people who will get the job done on their own without making excuses, who will overcome whatever hurdles are thrown their way, and who will work hard enough to succeed even in the most difficult of circumstances. If someone is going to do it, it might as well be you… and each of you has the ability to do it if you get to work. Failures are not a reason to give up… they are a reason to work harder so that you can eventually succeed. There is no magic switch or red carpet rolled out in front of you to make it easy, but there is also no barrier that holds you back other than yourself. Hold yourself personally accountable to doing the things that are required to be successful, and you will find that life will open many more doors for you. There is no guarantee that life will be easy, but working hard increases the likelihood that tomorrow will present increased reasons to smile.

Have a great day, Garden Spot! Y’all rock!

Mr. Cox



Thoughts from Mr. Cox – Nov 30

Hello Garden Spot!

I hope your break was as excellent as each of you, and was a relaxing time for all. It has been a great week in the office as Mr. Sanger and I have been excited to get to be around all of you again!

Notions of Respect
Michael Coghlan via Compfight

November’s Spartan Way trait of the month was ‘Respect’. I have heard some say that they will give respect to those who earn it, but that statement always confuses me as it is saying that one will only give respect if someone else gives it first… if both people interact from that same mindset then neither will ever respect the other because neither will give respect first.

I believe that respect is treating everyone around us well regardless of our disagreements or how they have treated us… it is kindness, compassion, mercy, and grace… it is a way of living that breathes value into the lives of those around us regardless of their attitude or treatment of us. At Garden Spot High School we call this ‘undeserved respect’, and we aim to give it to every person we come in contact with in the hopes that through our behavior we will be excellent representations of how we want students and staff at our school to behave. Respect can be easily seen in our treatment of others, which includes our words and actions.

I encourage each of you to learn to be respectful of all people, at all times, even in the midst of continued disrespect from the other person. I encourage you to live differently from the rest of the world, and to live in a way that allows you to make a difference in this world. Be respectful of others, be respectful of your parents, be respectful of authority, be respectful of your friends, be respectful of differences… being respectful in these areas are the best ways to be respectful of yourself. Being treated respectfully is not something that should have to be earned, but is something that should be given freely to everyone we encounter solely on the basis of the value they have as a human being. I know some would disagree with the previous statement, but I have found it to serve me well in establishing relationships that afford me the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those around me.

Be difference makers, Garden Spot… be respectful… live in a way that others will become better people through having known you.

Have a great rest of the week, and keep on rockin’!

Mr. Cox

Assistant Principal
Garden Spot High School

Thoughts from Mr. Cox – Oct. 20th

Good afternoon everyone!

I wanted to take moment to thank our students and staff for an awesome Powder Puff football game on Tuesday night, and a great afternoon at Challenge of the Classes on Thursday. It was really great to be able to bring Powder Puff back to the high school, and I look forward to doing this long into the future. We had a bonfire after the Powder Puff game that was a really neat experience too, and look forward to making that a tradition as well. Thank you to all who participated, all who attended, and especially to all who helped plan and pull off the events of the last few days. It is great to be part of such a great group of people.

School Poster Integrity is doing
Wonder woman0731 via Compfight

This month’s Spartan Way trait of the month is integrity. We believe very strongly that a principled approach to life leads to consistency and reliability. That reliability and consistency make it so that others can know you as a person that can be trusted, a person who does what is right, and a person who others can count on to do what is right… all the time. Integrity cannot be separated from character, and character is doing what is right even when no one is watching. What does your word mean to others? Is it something they can rely on, or something that doesn’t have much value? Do you treat others well, hold yourself accountable to doing what is right regardless of who you are around, and live your life in a way that shows the value you place on relationships, being of sound character, and having priorities that reflect your values? Are you a person whose values change like the direction of the wind, or are you a person who is the same to all people, in all situations, all of the time?

Integrity is an important part of building solid relationships, and an important part of being successful at your job. It is really one of the most important things in reaching your full potential in life, and because of its significance and importance in becoming a person that makes a difference in this world it is included as part of The Spartan Way. I encourage each and every one of you to consider the type of person you want to be in the lives of your siblings, in the lives of your future spouse and children, and in the lives of your co-workers and others you come in contact with… I challenge you to become people who make a difference in this world. Live your life with integrity, and be a person that others can turn to and rely on. Be principled, value things that matter, treat others well, and make a difference in this world…

Have a great rest of the week everyone… so proud to be a Spartan!

Mr. Elias M. Cox

Assistant Principal
Garden Spot High School

GSHS School Performance Profile

Whenever we hear that our current situation has to hold us back from our future aspirations we are reminded of the fact that we will achieve whatever we believe we can achieve. Thank you to an awesome staff and amazing student body for proving that nothing can hold us back when we hold each other accountable to high expectations. What a great sign of continued growth… 3rd in the county among all high schools. 4th in the state among high schools with greater than 40% economically disadvantaged student population. Your success matters to us, and we will relentlessly pursue every student that enters our building. Very honored to have the privilege of working with such amazing students, staff, and community. Thank you for your continued support!

For a detailed look at the many factors included in attaining the School Performance Profile score, check out Garden Spot High School’s Profile. Data is not all we do, but our continued growth is certainly an excellent sign of health.


2016-2017 SPP Scores Lancaster County High Schools


+90 SPP Score / +40% ED in PA (Out of 952 public HS in PA)

  1. Franklin Towne CHS (SPP – 94.6 / ED – 67%)
  2. Wilson Area HS (SPP – 93.4 / ED – 43.2%)
  3. Tyrone Area HS (SPP – 93.3 / ED – 45%)
  4. Garden Spot HS (SPP – 91.9 / ED – 40.2%)

Progress of Lancaster County High Schools Since First Release of SPP Scores



Go Spartans!

Mr. Elias M. Cox

Assistant Principal
Garden Spot High School



Update from Mr. Cox – Leadership

Hello Spartans!

It is hard to believe that we are almost done with our first full month of school… man, how time flies! It has been a pleasure getting to be around all of you again, and we thank you for an awesome start to the school year. I wanted to especially thank each of you for how well you have welcomed the Class of 2020, our students who transferred in from other schools, and our foreign exchange students. Your kindness and character shine in your actions, and they are a large part of what makes our school so wonderful.

As we enter October I wanted to take a moment to remind you that we will be pulling grades for your iSpartan placements on Thursday, September 29. Please make sure that you are touching base with your teachers if you have questions about your grades. The new placements for iSpartan will begin on Tuesday, October 4. Your homeroom teachers will share your new placements with you on Monday, October 3 and Tuesday, October 4.

To Infinity and Beyond
Dan Hutcheson via Compfight

You may have noticed that September’s trait of the month is leadership. The Spartan Way is more than a clever phrase, it is a set of principles that guide our interactions, and leadership is an important part of ‘Doing What’s Right’. Great leaders hold themselves accountable to doing what’s right even when no one else is watching, and because of that others are inspired to do the same. Great leaders treat others well, and those actions make others feel comfortable and valued in their presence. Great leaders don’t give up, even when things get tough, and they encourage those around them to keep trying even when life gets tough. Great leaders are role models, and each of you have the ability to be leaders. Leadership is trait that requires doing what’s right because those who inspire us to action are those who do what is right… and great leadership inspires us to be the best that we can be. The most important thing to remember is that all of you are a leader to someone… a peer, a younger sibling, a cousin… there are people all around you who look up to you, and that is something that you need to take very seriously. Are your actions ones that you would be proud of if others who look up to you followed?

I challenge each of you to be leaders, and to make a difference in this world. Each of you have it in you to do great things, the question is whether you will find ways to get the job done, or make excuses for why it was not possible. Great leaders find a way to do what is necessary to get the job done. Be leaders… live your life in a way that draws others to you… treat others well, do what is right, and refuse to give up – even when things are tough… by doing those things, you will be a leader that others will follow, and you will be able to hold your head high knowing that you are making a difference in this world. Keep rockin’, Spartans!

Volunteer Opportunities:

  • Please see the attached document for volunteer opportunities at Blue Ball Elementary. Directions for how to volunteer are found in the attached document: need-for-volunteer-hours-sign-up-sheet-2016
  • ELANCO Public Library: contact Ms. Means at if you are interested in volunteering at the ELANCO Public Library
    • Facilities Volunteer: Help set up and cleanup programs. Monday evenings from 6:00 pm-7:00 pm
    • Technology Volunteer: Assist patrons in using the computer. Must have knowledge of email (google, yahoo or Hotmail), Microsoft Word Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) and Adobe (PDF). Times for this position are flexible.
    • Extraordinary Give, November 18th 2016: Need: 4-5 students to help set up program (3:00-4:00 pm) , 4-5 students to help cleanup program (8:00-9:00 pm). 3 students to help facilitate program. (4:00 pm-9:00 pm)

Have an awesome Wednesday!

Elias M. Cox

Assistant Principal
Garden Spot High School

Thoughts from Mr. Cox – January 4th

Good morning Garden Spot!

I hope this message finds you having had a wonderful and relaxing break! Mr. Sanger and I have missed you, and found ourselves waiting anxiously at the front doors on several mornings during the break only to be disappointed by the realization that you were not returning yet… but our disappointment will be replaced with joy as we again get to be in your presence! Thank you for always bringing a smile to our face. We are excited to get to usher in the new year with you, and look forward to an awesome 2016!

There were two topics that were consistently on my mind over the break that I thought I would take a minute to write about… I hope you’ll take a minute to read them.

Helping HandThe first is the importance of having compassion for those around us. Compassion is being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, to give them the benefit of the doubt, to give them grace when they may not seem to deserve it, and to treat others well regardless of how they have treated you. It is important to recognize that there are many around us suffering hardships, and how we treat them can help make their situation better, or add to their hardship. Compassion includes going out of your way to be nice to that person who is difficult to be nice to, or standing up for that person who others pick on. Compassion is so important, but is often ignored because of our need to defend ourselves after having been wronged. Compassion is deciding to treat everyone around you well regardless of their actions. Compassion is recognizing that others around you may be suffering or going through some sort of misfortune, and being able to treat them in a way that can help them keep their head up as they maneuver through it.

The second is the importance of being generous with what we have. Some have money to give, some have talents to share that can make others smile, and some are able to offer their time to do things for those in need. Regardless of how you can help, giving of yourself to help those around you in need is so very important… not only does it make you feel good about having done something nice for another person, but it also helps to build a community where people know they have others they can rely on. Being generous teaches us to care about others, and to place their needs above our own.

My hope for our school is that we will continuously grow in our compassion and generosity, making sure that those who are hurting and in need always know that they are important here, and that we will lift them up in their time of need and not tear them down. I have been inspired by the compassion and generosity of our staff and students here at Garden Spot, but am confident that we can continue to improve. My challenge to you is to find someone who needs compassion and make it a point to speak kindly to them when others may not, and to give of yourself weekly to someone who needs your help. If each of us make it a point to do this for one person each week, imagine the difference it could make… be a source of good in the world that surrounds you, and work to make this place better when you leave then it was when you arrived.

You all make my life better, and I hope that during our time together I am able to do the same for you.

Here’s to an awesome 2016… You rock!

Mr. Cox

Assistant Principal
Garden Spot High School

Thoughts from Mr. Cox – November 9th

Good morning Garden Spot!


Seniors will be returning to their homerooms for days 5-10 of the upcoming cycle in order to present their Service Learning Projects. All other students will be in iSpartan placements based on their final quarter 1 grades. Juniors and Seniors will receive new placements for the cycle that begins on December 2, 2015. I was not sure I was going to be able to make this work, so your teachers had been told that all students would be returning to homeroom for the upcoming days 5-10, but I was able to figure out how to make this happen.

Teacher Spotlight:

This week I’d like to spotlight a teacher who has brought her passion for life to our school. She is involved in GSPA, brings her personal experiences into the classroom, and leads the LEO club for our school. LEO is a community service club that has been helping to make our community better. Through their efforts with a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society last year they were generously given Hershey Bears tickets to give to the students and staff at our school. Ms. Barnett has been a tremendous addition to our staff, and works tirelessly both in and out of school to assure that each of you and the larger school community receive all that you deserve. If you have had Ms. Barnett in class, or are a member of the LEO Club, thank her for her efforts in making Garden Spot great. If not, thank a teacher you have or know that is making a meaningful impact in the lives of your peers.

Personal Challenge:

GigglesWhen things are tough, you need to keep going. The other option is to give up and decide to let life keep you down. If you want tomorrow to be better, you need to do things that will make it better. Most things in life are out of your control, but there are some things that are within your control. Treating people well, paying attention and doing well in school… those two things are things you can control, and if you do them a little better, tomorrow will have one less worry and a chance of being a little better. If you do not take the steps to improve in those areas, then it is unlikely that tomorrow will look any better.

Another important factor in making tomorrow better is to do things that you can be proud of, and to focus your attention on the things that are good in your life. If you think there is nothing in good in your life, then it is time to do things that introduce good into your life… see the paragraph above. If you choose to dwell on the bad, and ignore the good, then your days will grow worse and worse as you dwell on the bad. Conversely, if you look to the good, even in bad times, it will help you keep a positive mindset that will help you through the tough times. Find those things that are good, do things that will bring good into your life, and focus your attention on those things. This is the best way to make tomorrow a little brighter. If you take care of business, and focus on getting your priorities in line, then there will always be good that you can look to in tough times. It doesn’t make the tough times any easier or less painful, but it gives you hope that eventually the tough times will pass and a brighter tomorrow will emerge.

I have often said to students in my office that when life seems bad you need to do things that have a chance of making it a little better. If you do not, then it is unlikely that tomorrow will be any better. When life gets tough it is not uncommon for people to stop taking care of the little things that really matter, and as they stop taking care of those little things they begin to feel overwhelmed life. As the burdens of life pile up, not taking care of those things you can control only contributes to the weight you feel on your shoulders. I challenge you to persevere in doing the things that you know have a chance of bringing about a better tomorrow, knowing that it is those things that will help bring you through the tough times in your life.

There is a saying that I like to use when talking with people about starting down a new path to success and a positive future; the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago… the second best time is today. The same is true of charting a new course for your life. Now is the time, today is the day. Decide to start doing the things you know need to be done to help assure a positive future. You can do it… I believe in you, and you deserve it.

Have a great week!

Mr. Cox

Assistant Principal
Garden Spot High School

Thoughts from Mr. Cox – October 26

Hi everyone…

My last post was about perspective, and I have received quite a bit of feedback about it. I want to share a link that I received that confirmed the need to keep perspective as we maneuver through life. Mr. Kevin Rupp is the speaker, and many of you will likely recognize him because he works in our school building.

I would encourage you to finish reading this, and then find some time to watch the video. My heart is saddened for this family, uplifted by their message, and humbled at their courage to share. As a father of five, I cannot imagine their experience… It is, and always has been, my hope that my words might give someone in need the strength to carry on, and this story has provided me with strength to persevere in the face of tough times.

Please take seriously the reality that there is enough pain and suffering that we cannot control, to be a part of creating hurt and pain that you are able to control is such a shame. There have been several instances over the past few weeks where I have had to deal with students treating other students poorly, and I am very disappointed in that. I challenge each and every one of you to be a person that lifts others up and does not tear them down. Be a person who creates a bright spot in the day of everyone you come in contact with. Be a person who helps others through their pain and suffering. Remember that more often than not you do not know who is going through a difficult time, which is why it is so important to treat everyone you come in contact with well. Be a part of making this world better, not of adding heart ache and headache to a world that is full of so much that is out of our control. Control what you can, and be a person that matters in the lives of those around you.


  • This week I would like to thank a few people for their hard work over the past few weeks. A special thank you to Mr. Houpt and Miss Chvotzkin for their work in making this year’s homecoming dance a great event, and to the class of 2018 for their efforts as well. I would also like to thank our Student Life club for their work with the pep rally. It was a great homecoming week for sure! I would also like to thank our Student Assistance Program team members for their work on setting up red ribbon week activities, and their desire to help our student body as they maneuver through the difficult time that is known as our teenage years. Thank you to all of you for pouring your heart and soul into making our school and community better.


  • It is important that you understand that we expect you to keep your hands to yourself. There has been an increase in students playing a silly game called the slapping game, or some variation of that. If you lay your hands on anyone other than yourself, you can and will be held accountable for it. Saying you were just joking if it was unwanted physical contact will not be an acceptable response.
  • The end of the quarter is this Thursday. Make sure you take care of any loose ends so that you finish strong. Your quarter 2 iSpartan placements will be based on your final quarter 1 grades
  • If you have a pass to go somewhere, please report to your assigned location first so that they can sign your pass. Just having a pass does not mean you do not need to report… the teacher you are to report to does not know you have a pass and will report you to the office as skipping class because you never reported.

Have a great week Spartans! You are AWESOME!

Mr. Cox

Assistant Principal Garden Spot High School