Wednesday, October 11, 2006

My other kids

Vascilating between being a litterbox and a joy in the litterbox are the kids who make up the Sheridan High School Marching Band. I'm nearing the end of my 6th season as the colorguard coach, and what a ride it's been!

Sheridan is a tiny public school district in a very poor section of Southwest Denver. It is a 2A school almost lost in the shadows of the big 5A schools that surround it.

I can't remember the last time the football team won a game, and some of my soccer-playing girls explained the "mercy rule" to me. Many of their games ended with the mercy rule, and it wasn't b/c they were winning...

State assessment scores are low, more than half the school population doesn't speak English natively, and most of the kids are on free and reduced lunch programs.

But, in the midst of it all a troupe of kids dressed in black, blue and silver stand proudly plumed on a green field. Silks flap in the Colorado breeze while horns twinkle under the bright sunlight. No one moves a muscle while the drum major counts off. The audience gasps with the first crescendo and pop of flags. Underneath many uniforms hang gold medals - a tangible reminder of the rewards hard work yields. The Sheridan band currently holds the title of State Champion for class 2A. Two weeks from yesterday, they will march onto the field in Pueblo to defend that long-sought after title.

It's really hard to be a very small fish in a pond full of mongo-sharks, but the kids never give up. When they fall, they get back up and work harder. Marching band, for many of these kids, is the ONLY spot of success in their lives. For some it is the ONLY thing keeping them in school.

Over the years I 've been asked "Why Sheridan? You could easily teach at a 4 or 5A school." My response: "If not me, then who?" So many small schools don't have staff beyond the director. I see many guards who make up their own show. I admire their courage and my heart breaks for them at the same time. I wish more communities and districts valued marching band.

There are some very difficult students whose personal lives would give you nightmares. Other teachers complain about these kids and some have police records, but you know what? In band, the problems are few and not severe. They feel valued. They succeed. Pray for wisdom as the season winds down and the staff turns up the heat to defend the state title. Pray for the kids that they may take the lessons learned on the field and apply them to life. Support your local marching band!

Visit the band at!

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