I had an opportunity this past week to attend the annual Lewis Cass FFA Banquet and awards program. This is an event, which gives parents, and supporters of the program a chance to get together, review the highlights of the past year, and recognize the students for their various accomplishments. FFA, for those who are not familiar with it, used to be known as the Future Farmers of America, but now with the increasing emphasis on agri-business the name has been simplified to FFA, and the Lewis Cass FFA Chapter is one of the most vibrant and active groups in the school.
As I sat listening to the description of the many different projects and activities that the students had participated in during the course of the year I was struck by the thought that many of the student activities which are an integral part of most American public schools, although not strictly academic in nature do, nevertheless, provide many valuable learning opportunities for students. They teach students how to work together as a team, the importance of doing quality work, the sense of accomplishment that comes from seeing a project through to a successful conclusion, and the joy that can be gained by exploring something new and interesting.
At Southeastern we believe that the most successful students are those who have learned to maintain a healthy balance between their academic work and their participation in various extra-curricular groups and activities. For that reason we think that it is very important to provide students with numerous opportunities to follow their interests, explore new things, and develop a well-rounded personality.
Athletics are an important part of American culture, and Southeastern has a rich tradition of successful athletic programs that appeal to many students. In addition, Southeastern is well known for the Lewis Cass Marching Kings thirty plus years’ tradition of excellence. That level of excellence breeds a sense of pride in our student musicians which they will carry with them in adult life, understanding that excellence is the result of hard work and thorough preparation. The Lewis Cass FFA has a similar tradition with many students doing projects that have been recognized at the local, state, and some even at the national level. Many other extra-curricular organizations have a direct link to classroom activities. Examples of these are the chorus, foreign language clubs, spell bowl and math bowl, art club, speech and drama, the student newspaper, and the yearbook to name just a few. In each case the activity capitalizes on student interests to teach valuable lessons for life. It’s our goal to have every student involved in at least one of these various activities.
There is a great emphasis today on math and language arts, and no doubt they are both critical skills. They are, however, only one piece of a very complex educational puzzle. Also important are science and history and citizenship and art and music and foreign languages. Equally important is learning how to get along with other people many of who are different from you and who may have different beliefs. Our schools are responsible for helping prepare all young people to become productive, successful adults. This happens in our classrooms, on our athletic fields, in various contests and activities, and in day to day interactions as students work and learn together. It is the availability of many varied experiences that give our schools the richness of opportunity they provide for our children.4/4/2013