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Bring Back Pride AND Performance

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by Rhoda Venture
Performance Trip

COVID-19 rocked the foundation of our world. It undermined our lives in ways we never imagined. And while everyone has an impact story to tell, few are talking about how it has robbed our children of some of the hallmark moments we’ve always taken for granted. Playoff games, Christmas concerts, student trips, and competitions – all wiped away under the ever-present threat of illness. The pivotal, confidence-building moments when students can shine on stage during a school play or proudly accept an academic award before family and friends have disappeared. The new year is a chance to hit the reset button and restore hope. Let’s bring back pride and the joy of performance!

UIL State Marching Contest

In December 2020, the University Interscholastic League State Marching Contest in Texas hosted bands from across Texas at the Alamodome in San Antonio. By all accounts, the event was a spectacular display of pageantry and skill, topped only by the smiling faces of the student performers.

Students were finally able to share their hard work with real, live people in the stands. The audience could stand up, shout encouragements, and cheer on their home schools. The bands reveled in the energy and spirit of competition. Their performances were packed with intensity, enthusiasm, and pure triumph! It was a shining and defining moment for students who had few of them in 2020.

A Testament to the Power of Performance

One of the announcers summed up the experience with some compelling words. @John Pollard shared in a December 15th Facebook post:

Wow. This photo is “before.” I’m still processing “after.” My God. 2020 has reliably gone off the rails again and again. Until we are numb. So much chaos. So much retreat. So much loss. So much cancellation and closure. Devastation. My heart has been broken on personal and professional levels in ways too profound to describe.

And then, yesterday and today… Music! Youth! Emotion! Power! My friends, this was a flex. The Texas UIL State Contest bands just punched 2020 in the nose. Hard. Like, really hard. Nosebleed hard. Run home to your mommy hard. You don’t have to be a band fan to appreciate what just happened if you saw it live or online. *Thousands* of teens, their instructors, their parents, their communities, their administrators delivering (to me) the most powerful message of 2020. They did it against all odds. They did it on behalf of themselves. They did it on behalf of programs that could not be here. They did it on behalf of every one of us who has faced challenge this year. They said “We will not go gently. We will prevail. We will survive this.”

I am a believer. For me this experience will resonate forever. It will be talked about for years to come… One day, pageantry designers will base the themes of their future shows on 2020. And what we witnessed here yesterday and today is a tale of triumph.

I am humbled. Heartened. Hopeful! I will never forget what we have endured. And yet, in this moment, I am so happy to say: All is well with my soul.

THANK YOU, bands of Texas.

pride and performance

Bring Back the Pride and Joy

Can I just add my own WOW?!? This is a testament to the power of performance. Giving students something to look forward to, something to strive for is just as important to their mental health and well-being as the precautions we take to protect their physical health.

The rapid shift from constant engagement to no engagement has taken its toll. While we all understand the need for virtual platforms in a COVID world, nothing trumps the exhilarating feeling of a live performance. Students involved in athletics, academics, and arts all deserve their hallmark moments. It’s time to once again acknowledge their hard work and dedication with family, friends, and fans present. It can be done and done safely. Let’s bring back pride and the joy of performance!

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