Monday, April 24, 2017

An Unexpected Gift

I went to the Howard County Schools Fine Arts Celebration of Columbia's 50th Birthday at Merriweather yesterday afternoon. I have to admit that I went with the mindset that this was an event that my kid was doing, and I was going to support her. We do that a lot as parents. We support concerts, games, shows, bake sales, car washes...We're parents. That's what we do.

But shortly after the program began it began to dawn on me. This program was a gift. These students had worked hard to prepare something that could be shared with the greater community. They gave a big chunk of their weekend to make it happen. (More than that, over the long haul of preparation.) It was so much more than my going to support them.

I was there, we all were there, to receive a gift. Their gift. The gift of young people who are passionate about what they do. The unexpected spontaneity of live performance. The joy on the faces of students who are given an opportunity to shine.

In a time when high school students are counseled by well-meaning guidance staff to drop that arts course in favor of adding more "real academics", it is heartening to see students introduce themselves by name and say, "I am a theatre student," or "I am a theatre tech student." When we are bombarded with a mind-numbing steam of test scores, the exuberance and persistence of these young people cuts through the noise.

Like the unseen characters in "Horton Hears a Who,"--

"We are here. We are here. We are here."

An event like this is conceived by adults and produced by adults. Sometimes when that happens, the voice of the students is muddied or lost. I think that this event let the students shine through. The combination of visual art, film, dance, musical performance, and theatre students as narrators put the focus on the gift of the arts. A gift meant to be shared.

Columbia is celebrating its 50th Birthday. What a great gift we have in these kids. What a blessing to share their gifts and passions in celebration of our community.

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