The Friday before Christmas was the big day, so Meema and I joined Laura and Ken (Alyssa’s parents) on the bleachers in the school gym. Good thing we got there early because it was standing-room-only. Lots of parents and grandparents were packed into the bleachers while the kids filed in by grade and classroom and sat on the gym floor starting with the youngest sitting closest to the stage.
Two kindergarten classes were putting on this production, which initially caused me to wonder whether I was wasting my time. I could envision myself sitting there constantly glancing at my watch, anxious to see this over so I could leave in order to get on with more important matters. A pleasant surprise awaited me.
The first thing to arrest my attention was how well behaved all of the kids were. And I’m not just talking about the kindergarteners. Watching the classes file in by age group was a coordinated process with a minimal amount of fooling around. The school runs from kindergarten through 8th grade (K-8), so the potential for misbehavior increases at an exponential rate, especially as you hit the 6th–8th grades. The noise factor increased as adults and kids were all talking. However, once the principal came to the microphone, everyone – and I mean everyone – quieted down and respectfully remained attentive throughout the hour-long program.
The kindergarteners on stage were positioned on risers waiting for the prompting of their teacher. One of the two kindergarten teachers was seated on a chair down on the gym floor. She was like the band master. I never once heard her say a word, yet she was “directing” the kids. The other teacher was in the wings off stage.
The program was entitled, “Christmas Around the World.” Four countries were chosen for representation: England, Germany, Holland, and Mexico. This was understandable since the vast majority of the children would have their ancestry traced back to these countries. Early in the program the children sang a beloved Christmas song, Silent Night, in both English and German. They also sang Jose Feliciano’s famous rendition of Feliz Navidade.
Throughout the performance, various kids, either individually or in pairs or more, would, on cue, approach the microphone to recite their part. I must give credit to the teachers for helping these kids understand the importance of standing still, speaking up, and remaining disciplined throughout. Yes, there were a couple of kids who didn’t get the memo. For instance, one little girl stood on the risers with her classmates constantly swinging her arms back and forth like a world-class runner warming up, all from nervousness I suppose. And one little boy on the front row was mugging for the audience from time to time. Otherwise, the fifty or so kids were amazingly poised.
My wife and I came away from this experience greatly encouraged by all that we witnessed. Even when the program was over, the kids seated on the floor of the gym enthusiastically cheered and clapped for their littlest school mates. Eighth graders clapping for kindergarteners? Yup! I saw it with my own eyes.
Kudos to Principal Marlon Gayle, and kindergarten teachers Ms Sherri Huff and Ms Dana Phelps. Thank you!