Friday, March 10, 2017

Game Day - Slice of Life 3/10/17

Mike Heiniger Photography
Today is a big day in my little community - our Boys Basketball team is headed to State. It's the final four this weekend - and farther than we have ever gotten. To say we are excited would be an understatement. 

Our high school sent the boys off with a rally this morning. They loaded up in two vans as the elementary kids on the same campus cheered them out of town.

Photo from Amy Reynolds

My heart melts when I see how the younger kids look up to the older ones. And when I see the high school kids take the time to talk to a younger child, well I'm reduced to tears.
Mike Heiniger Photography
I know these boys well. I've taught them, they've babysat my kids, I've tutored some. They've taken the time to mentor my sons, to encourage them in sports, to give them someone to look up to. We've laughed in the classroom, I've dried some tears. I look at these grown kids, almost men, and I remember the boys I taught. The boys who sat on the side of parade routes, cheering for the high school kids I had taught just years before. And the circle continues.
Some of the current Juniors when they were in 5th
On the court or off, watching kids grow up in this town is a privilege I don't take lightly. Every single day I stand in my classroom, trying to figure out how to reach each child I get to teach. Of course I want them to grow as readers and writers - that's my job. But I also want them to grow as people. To be young adults that my students will look up to in a few years. To be adults that can help shape this world - and improve it at the same time.

Two years ago (when I was teaching my current class of 7th graders in fifth grade), I shared the following article with my students. Love, Teach's Why I Hate Going to My Students' Games spoke to me. My own boys were in 4th and 6th grade travel basketball at the time. I saw what the author wrote about in several games they played, but we were the "affluent" school. I wanted my students to understand that our little town was a bubble and the world was wide. We had great discussion around that piece.

Tonight we face off in the State tournament against Chicago Orr. They are the focus of this five part article in the Chicago Sun-Times by Rick Telander. I highly recommend you read it. After reading this article, I had to share it with my students.

They were uncharacteristically silent after I shared the highlights of the article and we looked at the map in part two. One kid said, "Should we root for Orr? I almost feel like we should now." 

I shook my head and explained that my point of sharing the article wasn't for pity for this team, or for them to feel bad about wanting our team to win. 

I wanted them to understand that anytime you are competing, but especially in a highly charged atmosphere like this, it's very easy to develop an "us vs. them" mentality. 

I wanted them to see that this other team wasn't the enemy, that they were more than one dimensional.  

I wanted them to realize that our tiny little town does not represent the wider world. And that one game, in the scheme of life, is a blip in the radar. 
Mike Heiniger Photography
And so, tonight we head to state. My family will be trekking over to Peoria to wear purple and gold, scream for our team, and try to root them on to victory. But in our heart of hearts, we've already won. All four teams have. Our boys have achieved more than many of us ever dreamed. We are so proud of them. We're proud of all of the teams that have come so far. And we'd like to win just two games more. 

It's a great day to be a Sage.

News Gazette 
Slice of Life is a challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers.