Friday was a festive day at school. The kids had their Holiday Show, followed by a pizza party in my room for all of the 6th and 7th graders who scored above 80% on their much anticipated Unit Exams.
The Holiday Show was a festive and impressive display of these kids at their best. As impressed as I was with their efforts and talents, the most exciting thing was to see them impressed with themselves. I walked into the auditorium and one boy came up to me, towering over me and wearing his goofy Bronx-fashion conscious get-up that he wore every day (high top sneakers and skinny jeans and ridiculous black plastic square rimmed glasses), and excitedly told me that he had put up ALL of the decorations. There was tinsel and posters and streamers all over the stage and walls, and he was beaming in a way that for some reason getting a 100% on a social studies worksheet would never make him beam. On stage, my students marched out in the chorus, all wearing red. After school the day before they had all begged me to go shopping with them for red dresses, and, not sure about the legal implications, I declined. Now they were standing tall, feeling beautiful it tight sequined dresses, and lots of red feathers and spandex. They sang Christmas songs, and all of them danced and swayed right on beat. They looked great. The chorus teacher gave out a lot of solos, which made them brim with pride as their untrained voices warbled out over a crowd of their peers and teachers. There was choreographed, synchronized dancing (my favorite!) done by two dance troops – one of the girls and one of the boys. The boys ‘got lite’ and did break dancing, tumbling and spinning on their heads. All of the dancing was poorly choreographed, but the kids had a natural rhythm, and felt so good about being on stage, in the spotlight, that nothing else really mattered.
After the show, all day, the kids came up to me asking if I had seen them. They looked at me expectantly, smiling hugely, asking which was my favorite, and then smiling and saying – ‘yea, I really liked that one too.’
It is amazing to see them care. To see them glow and feel proud and feel good at something. It was beautiful to see, and I felt so proud of them all for the work they had put into it and for the confidence it takes to stand up in front of a rude crowd of middle school students and perform. This was what we want for them – this is the feeling you want themt o have, that I spend so much time terrified they will never have if I can’t teach them to write a sentence properly. The holidays are a very hard time of year in Hunts Point, and it was a needed reminder for myself, as well as to them, of how good things can, and should be.