Some People Wait a Lifetime

Had an amazing day at school.

At a lunchtime pep rally, our student council presented UNICEF with a cheque for $4000. The UNICEF representative explained that this money would be used to buy “School in a Box”-es that would educate almost 2000 children in Tsunami affected areas– our fundraising was helping to improve the lives of thousands of children and their families. Cynical people (like me) might expect that the kids would find this kinda nerdy, but instead, the crowd of 1300+ students went crazy with applause. Seeing the amount, and hearing the final result of their efforts, they really understood what all their hard work was for.

Next all the sports teams were introduced. I missed most of this as I was hustling stragglers in the hallway down to the gym.

In the final portion of the rally, there were two “talent” performances.

First, four male students put on a dance routine. In my day, four guys dancing might have been considered… how can I put this?… well, really, really gay. But these guys (three of whom are/were math students of mine this year) got the crowd going like pros. Their choreography looked like something you would see on a hip commercial. They executed flawlessly: flips, breaks, robots, throws, and a whole bunch of very cool 2-, 3- and 4-person combos that I’d never seen done anywhere before. Granted, I’m no connosieur of dance; still, this was very, very cool. The crowd went bonkers. The MCs, normally verbose and chatty, were reduced to repeating, “Wow. Just… wow.”

Lastly, the results of the school’s “Idol” singer competition were announced. A tiny freshman girl was announced the winner, and she shyly stood up, walked forward to take a mic, and began singing that “A Moment Like This” crap that Kelly Clarkson made famous. Remember that a gym full of high school students is never completely quiet; as soon as this girl started to sing, the huge room turned to silence as though a switch had been flipped. While divas are not my cup of tea, her voice was strong, and clear, and she perfectly managed all that up-and-down embellishment that people seem to like so much. She got thunderous applause at the end of each verse, and by the end, this little girl who had been fairly retiring and anonymous all year received a partial standing ovation from her peers.

Working with teens every day can make even the most optimistic and patient person start to become distrustful or jaded, mostly out of self-defense. I certainly started to unconsciously pigeon-hole the kids based on their looks, language, or behaviour. But this experience reminded me, yet again, that the kids I interact with every day have talents and passions that I need to work harder to recognize, especially with those who are (let’s face it) grumpy, failing math students. But beyond all the nerdy teaching reflection, these performances confirmed my belief that everybody has something to offer, perhaps even something breathtaking, if only we can give them the right stage, and some of our time.

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