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burning like matchsticks in the face of the darkness
 
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Saturday, April 6th, 2002

Time Event
11:46p
on expectations
It amuses me when professors think i’m so much smarter than i am. In his comments on my etymology paper, Doug wrote “I’m especially impressed by the way you manage those long sentences in ¶ 4: so deftly that your reader can almost see the smile with which you must have written them --- a smile of awareness that you’re (partly) parodying the style of dictionaries. The ability to produce this sort of gentle parody is, I think, an infallible sign of a good ear for language.” Hey, if you think so, who am i to argue? I had a long and complicated etymology to distill. I didn’t know any better way to do it than to basically make a long list. But if he thinks i was gently parodying, fine.

Maggie IMed me yesterday, sent me a great link. I was struck by how very true it is. It’s so sad in a way, that part of our lives (life up to leaving for college) is gone forever. Now we have 2 lives to balance, and nothing seems as permanent as it did before. We've moved away and often moved on. And now we have the summer ahead in which we will attempt to once again have what we had before, but no matter how successful we are, it'll never be the same.

Maggie wrote:
the part that struck me the most was the whole resentment
you resented your college friends initially because they didn't have the background we felt they need to "understand us"
now we resent our high school buddies cause they weren't there this whole year!

It took me a few readings to quite understand what she was saying, and it was definitely something i hadn’t seen in the piece when i first read it, but after rereading the article i realized that we were basically both talking about the same thing, just coming at it from different places.

Okay, so that didn’t fit the theme of this post because i really don’t have anything to say about expectations of friendships in college.

Norwood went to the MICCA (Massachusetts Instrumental and Choral Conductors Association) competition yesterday. This is a statewide competition. Junior high and high school groups perform in front of a panel of judges who make comments (on audio tapes during the performance, and then one adjudicator has a clinic with the group after the performance) and the groups are awarded medals on their own merits (i.e. more than one group is going to get a gold medal; you’re not competing against the other groups). Groups who play poorly may receive a Certificate of Merit or (even worse) a Certificate of Participation (also given to groups who opt for comments only), but most of the groups who go receive a gold, silver, or bronze medal because if you don’t think you’re good enough to get a medal, you probably aren’t gonna go. Anyway, the Norwood High School band has gotten gold for probably as long as they have been going to MICCA, and the orchestra got gold for possibly the first time ever my freshman year. We (the high school orchestra--which i was in) got gold all of my high school career, except my senior year when we got a silver, which sadly i think we probably deserved--which isn’t to say that people weren’t crushed, many even in tears.

So this year the orchestra got gold, which was great. The band played later, so their results were announced at a later ceremony. And for the first time, the Wind Ensemble (a select group of members of the band) also performed. My dad (who was a chaperone) said that the guy who did the clinic for the band said things like, "You play very well; I have to be picky to find things wrong." Then at the awards ceremony it was announced that the Norwood High School Band had requested comments only and would receive a Certificate of Participation. This next paragraph is from an e-mail from my dad:

So the orchestra got on one bus and part of the band got on the other bus and the members of the Wind Ensemble remained to compete in the evening portion. Mr. Holland went to see off the band bus, got on, and said," You must feel good; you played great." "Um, but why didn't we get a medal?" "If two groups overlap [like the band and the Wind Ensemble] they both can't compete for a medal. But that's not what's important. You should feel good because you played well. That's what matters."

So yeah, the mood on the bus ride home was not good. A lot of people were saying they were going to quit band. Turns out my brother’s dropping band next year, had already decided this--news to me. He’s gonna take computers next year and then TV. He pleads lack of time, which i don’t really buy since band doesn’t have many outside rehearsals and although he should practice, he does fine without. He’s been not really into band for a while, though, and i would rather he spend his time doing something he wants to do.

When George was first telling me i was thinking, "Oh there must be more to this," but i'm not sure there is. It's just such a bad move, on so many levels, that i have a really hard time believing Mr. Holland was really as stupid as he seems.
1) It shows a real lack of respect for the students to not tell them that the band isn't going to get a medal. I understand not telling them before they perform because you want them to play their best and you know they'll be less motivated if they're not gonna get a medal, but at least tell them before the awards are announced. He knows how psyched up we get waiting to hear the results, and he must remember from last year’s orchestra trauma how emotionally invested we can be in the results.
2) It's really unfair. These kids worked really hard. It's great to get a reward, recognition for your hard work. Why deprive the kids of that?
3) It's great to get to play at Tanglewood or wherever. Mr. Holland has even said what a great experience that is. [A few years ago, MICCA started a Stars at Symphony program in which the groups who earn a gold medal have the opportunity to perform at Symphony Hall or Tanglewood.]
4) You've gotta know it's gonna upset kids, make them less motivated for the rest of the year, cause a lot of kids to drop the class.
5) If it really is just about performing and getting comments, why not opt for just comments for everyone? There's a reason we've chosen to get judged every year.
6) Mr. Alberta loves getting gold; i'll be really interested to find out how he reacts. Especially because this is his last year as Director of Fine Arts for the Norwood school system; he’s retiring.

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