Friday, June 19, 2015

Extracurricular Bonding Time...

Another graduation party this evening, filled with laughter and old friends.  It's interesting to watch the change in kids from one year to another -- TOGs are lucky that way -- seeing the shy become brave, and the outspoken suddenly become a bit less so, realizing that the introverts actually DO have something to say, even if they don't seem to say anything very often.

It's difficult to understand or predict the perfect "mix" of activities and curriculum for any single gifted kid, but it's pretty universally expected that a large portion of the music kids are also identified as gifted and talented.   It is not uncommon for me to actively recruit or suggest kids who are quiet or uninvolved in anything beyond academics in junior high to consider joining the marching band.

This is particularly bizarre to the parents of violists and players of other string instruments, but the marching band is so welcoming in our district that there appears to be a place for everyone.  (String players have gone on to learn "pit" parts, or joining the band front.)   The more important thing, though, is that six or seven years after joining the marching band, those same kids will sit at a graduation party on a Friday night, swapping stories, and marveling about the perceptions they had of students much younger or older than they were, when last they played.

The assumption is that the characteristics of freshmen don't change as they grow older.  (Or at least that's what the seniors think, as they graduate, leaving underclassmen behind.)  Those of us left on the front lines get to see the maturation process, and see students find their confidence, voice, or backbones, becoming the "feared" seniors to their own set of underclassmen.

Every single high school kid needs to find two things:  a teacher who has their back, and a group of friends that will be friends forever.  For me, that group of friends marched in perfect step and won the state championship one year, and  have stayed in step, minus the white bucks and black boots, ever since.  Tonight's graduation party for Zach was no different.  Band stories brought everyone together with an inextricable bond that can only be understood by the inner circle of band geeks.

I'm sure that similar connections are made in other social groups in other extracurricular activities.  At least I hope so.  Because TWO THINGS are all it takes to create memories that span a lifetime, when it comes to high school.