12 March 2012

Falling Ahead & Judging the Results

I do not know what the Mayans had in mind for March as they geared up for the forthcoming disaster scheduled for December, but for this year, I can see the light at the end of the lamp. Considering that there was no winter to speak of here in my midwestern desert, spring has indeed arrived early. Trees have blossomed and, over a mere weekend, have shed them in favor of green leaves. There have also been tornado threats. The less said of that, the better....

There has also come the season of high school competitions. I spent the weekend pretending to be a judge and I believe I comported myself well. As someone from the field of wordsmithing, I was deemed a reliable judge of linguistic performance and analytical competence. And so, there I was: at a forensics competition at a local high school, which involved students from several area schools--about 1% of those schools' student populations, I would guess, making for a different kind of 1% distinction.

I made myself available for all rounds but acted as judge (but not jury) for only 6 of the 8 sessions. First, I judged political debates and debates on moral issues--always a fun time. Then I judged "poetry interpretation" and "prose interpretation" whereby the competitor both read/recited and kinda acted out the work, often with voice changes among the characters. It made for an odd collection of entertainments. Finally, I was on a panel of three judges for the six "dramatic interpretation" finalists. Their presentations were heart-wrenching stories half-told, half-acted, and were extraordinarily done, half of them successfully choking me up.

The event was inspiring to me, usually a cynical sort of person, and gave me a little faith that students I had taught over recent years would not be the sum total of the next generation. Indeed, the 1% of students I observed this weekend made me feel proud to be an educator. Although none of them were my students, I was very pleased to see the dedication, the giving a darn, the careful consideration of complex issues, and just taking a Saturday away from some kind of non-academic entertainment to show what they can do in the world of words.

Bravo to all of them! It was a weekend well-spent for me, as well.

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