Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Value of the High School Musical

During the month of October and very beginning of November we are in the midst of finishing up many reports that are required by the Iowa Department of Education. Every year it seems as though additional information is needed and it takes a little bit longer to complete these reports. This fall was especially busy as I tried to wrap up a few extra items related to some personal goals (more on that another time). Anyway at the conclusion of this data reporting period, it was a good time to get away for a little vacation! When my wife and I were planning our destination, there was only one stipulation: I had to be home in time to see the musical. Well, we made it and I am so glad that I was able to see this amazing show!

It's no secret that this annual event has become a favorite of mine. Each year I look forward to hearing what show Mrs. Anderson has in mind, and when she shares here plans I get excited to see her vision come to life! She has such a passion and creative energy--I think you all would agree with me that we are very fortunate to have Mrs. Anderson as a member of our faculty! She has the ability to bring together a multitude of people across various academic disciplines--and as such created a production that delighted our community the entire run of the show.

Of course, there is no mistaking the fact that Mrs. Anderson couldn't accomplish this feat without the help of some other pretty amazing folks! I think first we have to take note of the phenomenal talent that we have at our disposal. Year after year, we continue to have musicians in our school that are so incredibly talented. While many schools might only be able to pull off a musical of this magnitude once every three or four years, we are able to do so with consistency year after year. Not only are we able to sustain a high caliber program like this, we are able to set the bar higher each year! It's almost as if we say, "If you like what we did this time, just wait until you see what we do next." Congratulations to the outstanding actors and actresses who worked so hard and put in the time to make this show a success!

I argue there is perhaps no other high school activity that crosses curricular boundaries in the same manner as the high school musical. The biggest and most obvious is the music and vocal technique that is required to put on a show. Has anyone noticed the growth of these musicians over the last several years? I have, and this kind of academic growth doesn't take place without hard work, tons of practice, and learning by doing. There were undoubtedly long evenings of rehearsal, more rehearsal, and doing it 'just one more time' because it wasn't quite the way it was envisioned. The practice to learn the notes, the lines, and the blocking schemes are all what have enabled our young people to become Quality Producers, and to create something that they are quite proud of!

There are many other academic disciplines at work in the production of a stage show. For example, you may wonder: Is physical education involved in the production of a high school musical? Well, if you took note of the choreography and complex dance routines that were part of this production you could make a pretty convincing argument that P.E. is a big part of putting on a show like this. You can also bet that there were numerous discussions about healthy living and taking care of yourself while this show was in production. The last thing that we would want to have happen is for our actors and actresses to become ill right before show time! These are certainly many of the same type of topics that are regularly covered in physical education and health class! Being a Knowledgeable Person requires our students to have a depth of knowledge that is well rounded and and steeped in content across a vast array of curricular areas.

Gaston explains to Belle what a great 'catch' he is!
Certainly you noticed the colorful sets and intricate backdrops, not to mention the costumes that would put many professional grade productions to shame! These important components of putting on a high school musical are made possible through a network of parent volunteers, teacher volunteers, and students who wanted to be part of something special. This musical truly is a testament to the concept of interdependent accountability and being a Collaborative Worker. Each person that was involved in this show had to rely on someone else doing their part in order to present the successful evening of entertainment that we all enjoyed. I was pleased to see a special nod in in the acknowledgements to the shop classes at Hudson High School. These students added a lot to the show with construction of set pieces that helped transform us all to that land so far away where Belle and Company reside!

There is no doubt that our young people learned a lot about what it takes to put on a high school musical the last several months. But I contend they learned much more than meets the eye. They learned about the value of commitment and hard work. They learned that nothing comes easy, and that there is no greater reward than seeing your hard work work pay off. These lessons will stay with them and will be some of the greatest memories they have of their high school experience. Indeed, they have built up their Internal Assets by being part of this show.

Congratulations again to the cast, crew, parents and volunteers for all you did to make this musical a successful and education event for our students. I am so very proud of you!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

It's Time for a Little Respect

I don't know about you, but I am pretty happy this election is finally over! We have been inundated by advertising the last several months that was harsh, disrespectful, and at times offensive. While we might want to blame one political action committee or the other for being worse, it seems to me that both major parties are equally culpable. This election seemed to be less about the strengths that a particular candidate would bring to the office and more about the weaknesses of the person they were running against.

Instead of messages about ideas, more often than not the message of these political ads has been, vote for candidate 'X', because the alternative truly is the 'boogeyman'. Unfortunately, the history of political campaigns in this country has long since showed us that this strategy works. I can remember studying the concept of 'mudslinging' when I was a student in high school. In the election of 1796, John Adams proclaimed that Thomas Jefferson's election would result in a civil war and that he was an atheist. Of course, many of have probably seen the very famous Daisy Girl ad, where Lyndon Johnson suggested that the election of Barry Goldwater as president would likely lead to thermonuclear war.

I wonder what our students think of all the negativity in political campaigns. One of our Hudson 'Keys of Success' is to Live with Integrity. Do you think that our students wonder about the integrity of political campaigns? We teach our young people to treat one another with respect. We want our students to be proud of who they are and to act honorably. Embarrassing someone for personal benefit doesn't sound like a very honorable act to me. Distorting the viewpoints of a peer for our own gain does not sound like the act of someone with a lot of integrity. Our district has held anti-bullying campaigns and enacted strict policies for dealing with students who don't show respect for their classmates, and those behaviors are met with swift consequences.

In the elementary school, we hold regular assemblies where we celebrate our students and their accomplishments. In guidance class, Mr. Driscol often teaches our young people strategies on how to deal with conflicts. On the playground, a group of our students moderate conflicts between peers.

Now that the election is over (and thankfully the ads), we should all take solace in the fact that we are most certainly not left with a fresh slate of horrible politicians to govern. I choose to believe that all politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike have chosen to serve with pure intentions. They truly want to make our state and country a better place to live, work, and raise our families. Undoubtedly they will have different ideas and philosophies on how to make that happen--but they all do have the same (and at times idealistic) goal in mind: make our country better!

Whether or not you candidate won or lost last night, those who won deserve our respect. I choose to respect our Governor not because he is a Republican, but because he is our Governor. I choose to respect our President not because he is a Democrat, but because he is our President.  

The problems that need to be solved are very complex. If they were easy, then they would have been solved by now. The possible solutions are too numerous to count, which most certainly exacerbates the issues and makes them more difficult to solve. What I have chosen to pay the most attention to in this election cycle is a candidate's willingness to listen to their constituents, and their ability to work with people in the opposing party who may have ideologies in direct contrast to their own. 

Thankfully the election is over and the ads have now stopped. Now is the time for our politicians to show our young people how to govern and to prove that they can get along with one another. It is time to demonstrate where we all share a common vision, that we can work together to make our state and country better for everyone!