This past January, the Milford Junior High Choir performed the musical "The Lion King" after many months of hard work and preparation. Nearly 50 students took the stage and performed masterfully in front of their parents, grandparents, peers, teachers, and other patrons in attendance. After the show concluded and the students took their rightfully earned applause I asked myself, "Who were these kids?" On a daily basis, some these same students can be shy, socially awkward, and afraid to show off their true selves. Yet, in front of nearly 400 people they were composed, confident, and able to carry a tune.
One of the featured numbers during the performance is "Hakuna Matata" and as I listened to the words of the song many thoughts came racing through my mind. As the song states:
Hakuna Matata, what a wonderful phrase
Hakuna Matata, ain't no passing craze
It means no worries for the rest of your days....
For many, if not all, junior high students we don't get to see their "true selves" as worrying is part of their daily vocabulary. Does my hair look good enough? Will he/she notice me at lunch today? What is that smell? How am I ever going to get this project done? Did I just get a SnapChat? Why won't [insert name] snap me back? And the list of worries goes on and on and on. However, for over an hour during the performance these same kids, while probably nervous and scared to be in the bright lights, were able to act as if they didn't have a worry in the world. They took the message of "Hakuna Matata" to heart and when the performance ended they were all smiles for ear to ear.
Our jobs as educators is to help students get through the "worrying stage" of life. There is no doubt that being a middle level student is some of the toughest years in one's life. However, by providing students the opportunities to participate in activities such as musicals, sports, band, choir, FCCLA, FBLA, etc they can grow the confidence needed to perform and possibly just be themselves.