Monday, March 26, 2012

Talent and Beyond...

Ms. Berman,

I just wanted to tell you that the showcase last Friday was amazing. What the staff and students gave to us was a joyful celebration of what our IS school and kids are all about. I left smiling.

I missed the showcase last year, so this was the first time I've had a chance to see, in person, how supportive of one another and lively the IS kids are as a community, on stage and off. Natalie and Bruno were great emcees—relaxed, confident, and clearly enjoying their classmates and teachers.  All of the kids who performed really showed what IS has given them and what they bring to IS, including their willingness to work hard on their own to bring their acts to the stage, the ability and confidence to put themselves out there (not an easy thing to do), and their clear desire to give something back to their school. And the kids in the audience were equally impressive, turning out on a Friday night en masse and cheering their classmates on. They completely won my heart when Mr. Robinson's began to sing "Lean on Me," then asked to start over, explaining that he wasn’t used to standing up alone in front of an audience and singing without a group. Suddenly he wasn’t alone: As the music started again, the audience was there to give him the backup he needed, clapping to the music, singing along with the chorus, and letting him know in every way possible that they were there with him. Not to mention having a lot of fun doing it.  He couldn’t have chosen a better song for the occasion.

None of this would have happened without the IS staff and administration that bring out the best in the students by encouraging them to take the lead and trusting them to bring their best to the school and one another. That freedom and confidence promotes the confidence, independence, and creativity that our kids share, as well as the strong community that we all value at IS.

At the showcase, it was clear that the support and respect you, Dr. Ankenny, and all of the teachers and staff of IS give to your students is reciprocated and shines through in who they are and who they are becoming. Thanks to all of you for a wonderful evening!

Rachel Myers
Sophie Mueller’s mom

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Nothing can take away the Magic!

Written by Ms. Berman

There are some things in life that I know to be true with the upmost of certainly.  One of them is that the students at I.S. value the sense of community (frequently referred to as the I.S. family) to the highest degree.  When there is a perception that their safe haven is going to be reckoned with, many students cannot tolerate the thought of this potential disruption.  The School of International Studies feels like home for many adolescents, and has become the single aspect of their lives that they know they can count upon.

We are going through a period of adjustment at SDHS, no doubt.  It is no surprise that the financial turbulence that has affected our nation has ultimately impacted San Diego High School.   As an educator and club advisor, I have difficult decisions to make as to whether to shelter my students from the turbulence or involve them in the problem solving process.  The reality, however, is that our students are incredibly savvy, and have a keen sense of the climate at I.S. even when we aren’t aware that they are watching and listening.

In the end, this is what I hope students will take from the experience.  Adults sometimes get frustrated when they can’t do what they want to support their students, but, at I.S., there is an underlying code of conduct that is ultimately followed.  We stay united, we do our research, we use proper protocol, we garner community support, and we navigate through challenging times with dignity.  The important lesson learned, as an I.S. parent stated, is “not that doing the right thing always leads to the ‘right’ result, although that is what we hope for, but more importantly, that we continue to do what is essential to maintain integrity and justice regardless of the circumstance.”

As always, good arises from every difficult situation, and in this case, the upheaval has forced me to take a step back and evaluate what is creating so much angst for our teens.  This is essential if I am to properly support my students.  This turmoil is not solely about money, policy making, or regulations.  It is about the feelings that are associated with dedication, protectiveness, and camaraderie and the fear that stems from feeling threatened.  These are, in fact, all positive qualities about our students that we need to recognize and cherish at this time.  This is the essence of I.S.  

The I.S. Benefit Showcase is more than a fundraiser; it is a commemoration of our community.  It is an evening to forgo our concerns over policy making and procedural doctrines, and enjoy watching the culmination of this collaborative effort of our magnificent students.  It is a night to ignore calorie counting and indulge in the homemade delicacies that our students will manage to produce in the midst of all of their school work.  It is a time to enjoy the many talents of the students on the stage.

After all, the I.S. family is created by, and for, the students.  As long as they remain, so will the magic.

This I also know to be true: Nothing can take away the magic!  Why else would I.S. Alumni be flying into San Diego to attend the I.S. Benefit Showcase?  On March 23, 2012, at 6 pm, they will be a poignant reminder to all of us what it truly means to come home.