I was a Navy brat. My dad served this country for over two decades, finally retiring when I was in my junior year of high school. During my school career, I attended over a dozen schools. Elementary school was relatively easy because during this time in childhood, kids are fairly accepting and the cliques (if there are any) are relatively fluid. It was only during the transition to junior high and high school that being the new kid became more painful.
The one thing I had as the new kid was a deep love of singing. From the time I entered West Junior High School in Butte, Montana (yes, my dad was stationed in Butte – a story for another day) to when I left Benicia High School as a 9th grader, I was involved in school choir programs. It was the one clique that I fit into relatively easily and quickly because I found other kids who shared this same love of singing.
In fact, when I look at the partial year at Marshfield High in Coos Bay, OR and the end of my high school career at Alameda High, I remember not feeling well-connected to any group. It took me some type to develop friendships, which I know probably had a lot to do with being the new kid as an eleventh grader. However, I have to wonder if this feeling of disconnect that I experienced later on was because of how much longer it took me to find a group of kids that shared similar interests – something that could be found easier when I could be part of a school choir.
This leads me to where we are now in education. The focus is clearly on getting all of our kids college ready. This is whether or not the kids themselves want to be college ready. As a high schooler, I said I wanted to go to college, mostly because I knew it is what the adults around me wanted to hear. However, I did not go to college straight out of high school. I chose to get married and start a family. I found I had to live life in order to truly appreciate my college experience.
With all of this emphasis in California on pushing our kids to meeting A-G requirements and the cuts to music and art programs, it makes me wonder. Where would I have fit in as a high school student? The one class that kept my interest has ceased to exist in many middle schools and high schools.
Our schools need to reflect all of our kids. Sadly, we are only engaging and providing relevancy to a small group of kids who truly have the burning desire to go straight to college out of high school. Those who do not wish this for themselves at this time are being told that what they want is not important and those around them (the adults) surely know better. When will we move past the idea that all of our kids are the same and start providing comprehensive programs that reach & teach all types of kids, including those who are every bit as smart as college bound kids, but simply do not want it for themselves as soon as they graduate?