First off, a disclaimer. I try pretty hard to not use my blog to stir up trouble or controversy. I don’t like dissension and mostly stay away from topics that create it. So that is not what this post is about. Instead, it’s more about my heart and how I feel about the issues that have been pretty prevalent this week in our school and community. So bear with me…
On Wednesday, there will be a Community Budget Forum meeting at our Elementary school. If you read my last post, our school district is in severe financial trouble and this meeting will address the many cuts that are being made to incredibly important programs including academics, arts and athletics. Knowing this meeting is coming up and reading a lot of what has been on people’s hearts and minds got me thinking about our kids and how these future cuts will affect them. And it inspired me to go back a bit and share specifically how athletics and the arts have impacted our family.
First off, our son has always been sporty. We put him into soccer and basketball programs all throughout elementary school. The year before Jr. High he joined up with the ESM Land Sharks where he cultivated a passion for running. Granted, I may have bribed him a bit in the beginning, with McDonalds Ice Cream cones after practices, but as I mentioned before, it helped to push him into a general love for running.
So, in Jr. High, he joined the Cross Country team and we absolutely loved it. For the record, Cross Country is the perfect sport for those of you who aren’t into sitting around forever for your child’s sports. Cross Country Meets basically go pretty quickly depending on how fast your child can run a mile or mile and a half. Overall, as parents we were incredibly proud to see our son working hard at something he loved.
His first year of Jr. High also offered him the opportunity to try something new. Prior to 7th Grade, Christian really didn’t have much experience playing volleyball.
But when he tried out for the team and made it, it was just the beginning of him developing a huge passion for this wonderful sport. He had the best Coach (literally since his Coach led our varsity team to win states that year) and he learned so much.
If you have a child in Jr. High or have had one, you know how tumultuous these years can be. Having a child be a part of a team playing a sport that they love… it helps and for us, it helped a lot.
Christian went on to join a club volleyball team for a few months and then spent last summer playing Beach Volleyball. This past fall, he joined another club to play travel for the year and is currently at the end of his 8th grade season of volleyball for school.
He has excelled in so many ways because of the opportunities he’s had to play volleyball. Again, as parents we have been thrilled. Athletics have helped Christian grow and learn and stay focused and we could not be more thankful for the programs that he has been a part of.
And as far as the arts go, Christian has been involved in choir since elementary school.
He had the absolute best teacher who inspired each of his students to do their very best when it came to music. Christian enjoyed quite a few years of choir and we always enjoyed attending his winter and spring concerts to hear him and his classmates sing.
Then came our Ellee. She expressed an interest in playing violin and ended up getting picked to play that very instrument in her school’s orchestra. Our neighbor graciously gave her a violin and she was good to go.
She worked hard all throughout the year. If you know our daughter, she is a hard worker who also struggles in school. At one point, we were afraid that we were going to have to pull her out of orchestra because she was missing too much class time for her weekly lessons. It was then that her amazing teacher offered to have her come in early so that she could continue. We could not have been more thankful to have such an amazing woman teaching our daughter.
Ellee continued with Violin this past year and it’s been incredible to see her transformation. She went from knowing nothing about music to being able to play with such strength and beauty.
We have been so happy with her progress and again with the wonderful teacher that she has had who has shown such love and care in her instruction with our daughter.
Whether it’s athletics or arts, these programs play such a key role in enhancing the lives of our children. Clearly academics are important as well, but it is in these extra curricular activities that our children find their gifts and talents as well as their ability to grow and thrive. We’ve seen our children be blessed by the opportunities they’ve been given access to and for this, as a parent, I will always have such gratitude for.
So, you can imagine the heaviness in my heart, knowing the cuts that are being made to the athletics and arts programs in our district. I’ve talked to parents whose children, like ours, have thrived because of their involvement and participation in these programs. I wish I had the answers (or the millions of dollars it will take to save these programs) but I don’t. However, I do have a strong passion to advocate for both and especially going into Wednesday’s meeting. If there is any way we can save these programs, let’s join together to do just that. While I fear the arguments and dissension that might come, I pray that more importantly, we can join together as a community and be proactive to fight for the changes that need to happen so that our children can continue to have access to both the athletic and arts programs that will help them to learn, grow and thrive in incredible and beautiful ways.