The lights dimmed and the audience sat quietly, eagerly anticipating the beginning of the show. Excited performers giggled nervously or grinned widely as some swayed and others bounced slightly while awaiting their cue.
I was part of the audience that was about to be treated to a show performed by students in grades six through eight. Although the school gymnasium is not exactly Broadway, and these actors juggle rehearsal schedules with math and spelling, for those of us watching our kids perform, it was no less exciting.
The show was quite good. The kids had obviously worked hard to prepare, and had taken their direction well as lines were delivered with appropriate timing, intonation and gestures. Performers quickly and deftly recovered from only a minimal amount of minor flubs, and they subtly prompted one another when a line had been temporarily forgotten, which was also infrequent.
It is times like these that I feel very lucky that my kids, thanks to the staff at the school, are able to be part of such an enriching and exciting experience.
This show could have been any school performance I’ve had the pleasure of watching since my son, now in grade six, started kindergarten. I continue to be impressed with this and the many other opportunities offered to the students by staff members.
In this school community, just about everybody gets involved in these productions. Teachers who play musical instruments band together with students for commercials and interludes, secretaries offer coaching for voice projection and microphone use, and other staff members work with students behind the scenes creating sets and props, and working the lights.
These are people who obviously recognize the great value in supplementary learning opportunities, and how they enhance the learning environment.
The kids are learning to feel comfortable speaking in front of others, which means for some, overcoming a fear of doing so. They are also benefiting from working together with adult mentors and student peers as part of a team in a non-competitive situation.
They learn about the value of preparation and the undeniably important skill of on-the-spot trouble shooting and quick thinking. And they learn, that whatever the situation, the show must go on.
But it’s the confidence gained that, in my opinion, equals the value of anything covered in the curriculum. I would never downplay the importance of what children learn, pencil in hand, in the classroom, but I believe it is just as important for them to take part in a range other activities at school with less measurable results.
In addition to a wide range of extra-curricular activities and sports during lunch breaks, and before and after school, my son has participated in the Kodaly Choral Festival which takes place in the spring at the Centre in the Square. Months of organizing and rehearsing culminate in a delightful and somewhat overwhelming performance during which about 500 students from area schools come together and sing. Anyone who has seen this will agree that it’s quite an experience. My daughter, who will begin grade four in September, speaks often of finally being old enough to participate in this choir next year.
It’s a devoted teacher, complete with a caring personality that makes a good educator. Teachers at my kids’ school instruct, supervise, nurture, guide, encourage and coach, both inside and out of the classroom, helping their students achieve so much more than what is required.
Though my kids won’t readily admit it, I know that they, and I suspect many others, will miss school over the summer….but not because they will long to sit quietly and attentively in their desks.