Saturday, March 2, 2013

Extra-Curricular Experiences

It is the time of year when schools and communities all around British Columbia are coming together to cheer, support and be excited about the high school basketball playoffs.  This may be debatable, since all sports have their audience and supporters, but the BC High School Senior Basketball Championships (both Boys and Girls) seem to be the crown jewel of the high school sports scene.
J.N. Burnett's Senior Boys team has completed its season, finishing just short of the Provincial Tournament after placing 6th in the Lower Mainland qualifier. Despite the disappointment of falling one spot shy of their goal, it has been an extremely exciting and rewarding journey for both the team and the school.  After many close games in league, the team finished the regular season with a 9-1 record, then hosted the Richmond playoffs.  The school community fed off the success of the team, and the Richmond tournament (written about here), was an incredibly fun place to be for four glorious days.  The crowds in the gym, the buzz around the school, and the sense of pride and school spirit is a big part of what makes school sports such an important part of a young person's education.
I remember my time in high-school athletics very fondly.  Many of the lessons learned while playing for school teams are the things I use most frequently in my adult life.  Overcoming obstacles, collective problem solving, working together, leadership skills, challenging yourself in difficult times and how to communicate effectively and build relationships with my teammates and coaches are all things that were learned best on the court or field, and are the skills that serve me best today.  While classroom teachers are also developing many of these 21st Century Skills, too often schools and students are judged by marks and exam results (see the controversial Fraser Institute Rankings).  We need to appreciate that the lessons learned through curricular and extracurricular opportunities are often immeasurable and overlooked but equally important and may resonate with students even longer.
The Richmond District has a strong tradition of success in basketball, and much of it is because we have been blessed with tireless volunteers like Paul Eberhardt, Les Hamaguchi, Chris Kennedy, Anne Gillrie-Carre, Bill Disbrow and Kent Chappell to name just a few of the better-known coaches who have worked the sidelines for many years.  These volunteers are people who put in countless hours and create the experiences that make memories for the students on their teams.  While some may occasionally criticize some of their methods, no one can question their efforts, knowledge, the lessons learned and how much they care about the students with whom they work.

Much like School Sports, other extra-curricular programs are hitting their stride at this time of year.  Next week, the Burnett Drama Department will be performing its Spring Production, "The Laramie Project".  Events such as these (which I will write about in greater detail in a future blog post) are incredibly rich learning experiences for the students, and serve as a fantastic way to bring the community together to support and learn from and with our children.  Don't miss out on what promises to be an educational and entertaining show! 
To all the performers, competitors, directors and coaches who have worked and learned so much this year, thank you!  And to all of those who are still playing and performing, best of luck!  Make the most of these opportunities, because they will become the memories that you will carry with you for the rest of your lives.  The learning that happens in events like these stays with you and helps shape you into the adults you will become.

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