I sent home my 2nd annual attempt to communicate to chorus parents on Thursday. Here's what I said...
Dear chorus parents,
This afternoon was the annual recognition ceremony. Students get recognized for all sorts of things- leadership in sports, excellence in languages, participation in drama, citizenship in cluster classes. As I watched my 8th grade singers stand up over and over again, though, I couldn't help but think about the fact that while the right students were recognized, perhaps we recognized the wrong things. All the things your children were receiving awards for were just manifestations of their interior qualities that make them such wonderful people: dedication, kindness, caring about others, positive attitudes, commitment, the pursuit of excellence, leadership, and the ability and desire for self-expression.
Some examples of things students did without hope of recognition, but simply because they are wonderful, caring members of their community: This year, chorus students created a school-wide campaign to raise money for UNICEF at Halloween. They gave up lunches to participate in a fundraiser for victims of violence in Darfur. They spent long afternoons practicing for junior district auditions, without promise of getting in, and they gave up the last free days of their middle school career to rehearse for graduation chorus. They helped the students around them deal with angst, anxiety, arguments, and music. They spent evenings mastering tricky fingerings, drumbeats, and piano chords to accompany our singing. They were silent in protest of oppression of gays and lesbians. They were supportive of each other in times of unspeakable tragedy. They were jubilant in song. I learned a lot, because they taught by example.
In a week or two, you'll get your child's report card, and there will be no grade for any of the things I just mentioned. So you can consider this their 'letter' grade. Congratulations on having a child who deserves recognition every day for their capacity for kindness, and thanks for lending them to me for an entire school year.
Have a wonderful summer,
Are your ears burning? Flushed with pride, I hope. Great job, rock stars.