“There’s a million things I haven’t done, but just you wait.”
– Hamilton (musical)
Last night I had the pleasure of watching the AAS students’ performance of Cabaret. It was an incredible show! Through the years, I have enjoyed and been impressed by all of the AAS musicals. The addition of the Rila Theatre has made it possible to take the performances to another level. When at a musical, it is natural to focus your attention on the actors and musicians on stage. Yet it is fun to think about just how many students were involved. There were 58 students in the cast, crew (who had to manage 18 scene changes and a lot more), and band. Additionally, there were students running the concessions stand, welcoming audience members, creating the publicity materials, designing sound effects, creating props and more. Over 10% of the AAS student body was involved in bringing Cabaret to life: not to mention the number of staff and other adults who supported the show in various ways. Before the Rila Theatre was opened, this level of involvement was not possible.
Though the Rila Theatre allows for a new level of production and student involvement, it is up to the students and staff to make it happen, and I thank them all for their work in doing so.
It is natural that performances like Cabaret receive a lot of attention: students’ hard work and commitment as they hone their skills leading to their success are on public display. One of the great joys of working in education is that we get to see student successes every day.
Psychologist Jerome Bruner contributed significantly to our understanding of how children learn. One of his theories was that any child at any age can learn the fundamental principles of any subject provided that it is presented to them at an appropriate level (referred to as scaffolding). This is true of everything from literature to physics to theatre. As educators (and parents), we see this theory in action all the time: so much so that sometimes it is easy to not notice it or appreciate it. For example, when a high school senior analyzes a sophisticated piece of literature, the ability to do so is grounded in the time that student began reading at the age of 5. As the elementary principal a number of years ago, I asked a kindergarten student to be one of the emcees for the AAS Elementary School Winter Concert. Her parents and I were not sure that she would want to do it, but she said yes. She was nervous, but when she got on stage she was perfect. She wasn’t ready to have a solo performance in Cabaret, but what she did on stage at the age of 5 was every bit of an accomplishment as what our high school students accomplished last night in Cabaret.
As we watch our students/children grow, their successes are ubiquitous. So much so, that we often miss or overlook them. It is easier to focus on the things they don’t do (e.g. clean their room). I think most kids get much more attention for their small “failures” (for lack of a better term) than their countless successes.
Watching Cabaret again reminded me that I am surrounded by infinite successes every day.
“The accumulation of small achievements is the only way to do something incredible.”
– Fumio Sasaki