Stuck in the Middle: Living in the Limelight
I believe young people can do amazing things when they are given opportunities and challenged, but even I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of our extracurricular school play “Drop Dead, Juliet!” It was a fantastic production that was put together over a 6 week period. Ten NSMS teachers divided up roles and responsibilities for this production. We had costume design, stagecraft, musicians, dancers, tech crew and of course actors. In total 76 NSMS students participated in the school play.
I don’t often get the opportunity to talk directly to our parent community about our school, so I asked our directors if I could say a few words before their first performance. The spotlight went on, I got my cue, and I took centre stage.
I took this opportunity to share some of the reasons that I believe NSMS is an incredibly special school. Over the last three weeks at North Saanich, in addition to our 76 students involved in the play, we have had the following number of students participate in extracurricular activities: we had 20 dancers attend the Claremont Dance Festival, 23 Grade 8 band students attend the Whistler Music Festival where they won a gold standing, we have 43 athletes playing on our three rugby teams, 67 students on our Track and Field Team, 14 students are in our Mountain Bike Club that rides at Hartland two days a week, 16 students work on our Tech Crew for parent Night and other activities, 3 students sail for the Parkland Sailing Team and 75 students are participating in the GAUSS Math contest organized by the University of Waterloo. That is a total of 337 students participating in some kind of extracurricular club or sport at NSMS during a three week period in May. What is equally impressive is that our school offers a full slate of clubs and teams all year and every one of those activities is coached or sponsored by a North Saanich Middle School staff member. I am not sure another school in the province can make that claim. As the expression goes, “Many hands make light work.”
After sharing this information with the audience, I headed down to my seat to sit with my wife. I was expecting a great play, but I was shocked with the quality of the performances, the number of students that were highlighted and to be honest the humour that they displayed on stage. It was an absolutely amazing night... until the car ride home.
As soon as we got into the car my wife said, “That is the best middle school performance I have ever seen.” She shared her favorite scenes and talked excitedly about students she knew.
I replied, “I don't think the evening could have been better.”
She hesitated before replying, “There was one thing that could have been better.” She lowered her voice before adding, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you rushed through your introduction. It was like you were trying to get off the stage really fast.”
So the next night I came back determined to embrace the limelight. As the band Rush says “All the world's indeed a stage, And we are merely players.” I had to perform better. I can’t ask students to get better unless I am willing to have the same Growth Mindset.
As I was waiting for my chance to redeem myself I told the Tech Crew what my wife had said and asked them, “Did you notice me speaking too fast last night?”
They all remained silent, but I could see them looking for a way out of answering the question, when one of them said, “Maybe a little.”
“I promise you tonight I will slow down,” I replied.
This was followed by one of the young Tech Crew members saying, “Can we also get you to stand in zone one when on stage rather than in the centre, because last night you weren’t in the light, you stood right in front of the Hawk Logo.”
He then walked me over to the edge of the stage and showed me my “mark” (a piece of tape on the floor) where I could stand and not be blinded by the light, but still be seen. It was now my job to slow down and not be the weak link in the night’s production!
At North Saanich Middle School, you might get the opportunity to live in the limelight by joining the school’s theatrical production. Some might say it is ‘the universal dream for those who wish to seem’. But for me, ‘the underlying theme’ was the opportunity to share about all the great things that are taking place at NSMS.