Spirit Week in the MS with Principal Ana Chaney
Principal Ana Fox Chaney explains the relevance of 'Play' within the middle school community as Spirit Week culminates with brave performances from our students:
The faces of lower schoolers and some parents were pressed against the doors of the auditorium this afternoon as the middle schoolers performed for each other - by team - in the culminating lip sync competition of our Spirit Week ‘Olympics’. This was without a doubt the most festive, good-natured, rousing lip sync battle yet. The spectators were drawn to the doorways by the music, cheering and laughing. They couldn’t help but smile at the sight of middle schoolers - costumed, smiling, dancing to pop music from many decades and cheering each other on. Everyone in every team had a role in the performance; no one was left out. Each routine had unlikely stars - the fifth grader doing a handstand, the eighth grader you didn’t know could dance, the shy seventh grader strutting, a sixth grader unrecognizable in their costume. This unbridled acceptance, risk and good feeling defies stereotypes of middle school life.
A day like this has important developmental and educational benefits. Play is as important in middle school as it is in early childhood. Play - which today meant crafting an original lip sync performance with 20 classmates drawn from all four grades - gives middle schoolers the space to navigate relationships, to try on new roles, to strategize, create and compromise. It provides an opportunity for students to be celebrated for their unique talents and test new skills in a safe space. Teachers are coaches, but leadership comes from the students themselves.
The product this afternoon spoke to the value of the process. The performances were thematic, unique, and elaborately choreographed; evidence that student leaders in each team had delegated responsibility and that student choreographers had taken the challenge. The jokes were inclusive. Each routine managed to spotlight the lesser-known performers in the group. This was no accident. Teammates watched out for each other and kept watch over the group as a whole. The music choices were wild mashups that ranged from Chuck Berry to A-Ha to Beyonce; a sign of debate and compromise. Teams cheered as unreservedly for each other as for themselves. I was so entertained today and so proud - you would have been too.
-Ana Fox Chaney, Middle School Principal