Chuck's column: Pep fests give us reasons to celebrate studentsFor those of you who don’t know, I’m the guy who enters the gym on regular occasions to lead the student body through a pep fest or an assembly or for some other reason we’ve gathered.
It’s October. That generally means I survived September. If you’re reading this, we’ve already put in five weeks of school. That also means I’ve made several checkmarks on my “To Do” list for the year.
For those of you who don’t know, I’m the guy who enters the gym on regular occasions to lead the student body through a pep fest or an assembly or for some other reason we’ve gathered. Can I share a secret with you? I’ve always feared heading into one of those events and the kids NOT cooperating. I’ve had nightmares of such an occurrence.
Few know this, but my first pep fest took place on Feb. 15, 1985. I was in my third year of teaching. It was a Friday afternoon. I was terrified. Yet, I was pumped beyond belief.I was young and so ready to face the challenge. When it was over, I returned to my room, as did many of the juniors (the class of 1986 was a special class in my career), and we reveled briefly in the moment. I was called to the office to take a phone call. It was my brother telling me to come home. Mom had collapsed at the doctor’s office, and her cancer was about to claim her life. My pep fest career began with an incredible mix of emotions.
So many more pep fests have come and gone over the years. Pep fests mark the beginning of a sports season. State tournament involvement might require a special pep fest also. We also have an all-school awards assembly in May. It’s an hour long, and the kids are chomping at the bit for June to arrive. Then there’s the Holiday Assembly. That’s held in the final 40 minutes of the school day prior to Winter Break. Each and every time I head into our gym for any of these reasons, I wonder, Is this the time they turn on me? Each and every time they tell me through their behavior and cooperation that they’re on my side … and then some.
I won’t lie. I work my butt off when I’m on that floor with the mic. I try to keep them entertained as possible if the event calls for it. With the All-School awards assembly, I thank them for their school spirit and cooperation at pep fests, but the awards assembly behavior has to adjust itself to one of silence and appreciation. That gathering may be my biggest concern of all each year.
However, our student body has never disappointed me. This community, at the very least, needs to know the kids in our building are beyond being great kids. I’ve seen them give a standing ovation to a widow of a retired administrator. She joined us the fall after he had passed away, and as she was introduced to crown the Homecoming King and Queen, the kids stood instantly and applauded. I’ve witnessed over 2,000 teenagers quietly support a little girl of five who was having a difficult time getting started on singing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” by singing the song lightly without taking the spotlight away from her. Both moments were sights to behold, and those are only a couple of examples.
Our kids demonstrate class in the gym. We often have guests at the pep fests, for one reason or another: parents or relatives or friends of the students in the pep fest. Ask them if I speak the truth. Substitute teachers often comment they’ve never quite seen anything like it. I know there are schools in our conference which do little in their gym because they are concerned the students might behave inappropriately. But not at Rosemount High School.
We have great kids. We really do. And I just wanted to share that with you. When our kids are put on the spot, they rise to the occasion. I’m never not impressed. And I’ll leave you with that thought for now.
See you next week!