Letter: Fighting for tradition

By on June 9, 2011

The other day, I received a disturbing e-mail. It stated that the Kaneland School District is canceling field day at the elementary schools as well as next year’s holiday concerts. I reread the e-mail several times. I honestly didn’t think I was reading it right. After a few phone calls, I was shocked to have these cancellations confirmed.

First, why would field day be canceled? It is held on school grounds and is run by teachers and a large group of volunteers. These are people who want to help the students have a memorable experience. It can’t possibly cost that much, if anything at all, to hold this event.

As for the holiday concert, why would the district take away a tradition from as far back as anyone can remember? What would the holidays be without a stage full of proud little people bursting out in song? Most of the audience is moved by a range of emotions from pride to tears to laughter, as well as pure joy.

These are moments that the students experience which will bring them a lifetime of memories.

I can still remember the field day that I won the 50-yard dash against a boy. I have memories of our spring concert singing a montage of the Beatles music, followed by a roar of cheers along with a standing ovation. I remember the holiday concert where I was chosen along with two other children to sing a few solo lines from “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” These are just a few of my awesome memories.

The fact is, I remember the great teachers I had as well as the not-so-great teachers. I don’t remember exactly how I learned the foundation of math or reading that gave me the skills to continue my education. What I do clearly remember are the moments during these extra events that gave me such a feeling of pride, helped build my confidence, as well as gave me the memories to share with my own kids as they go through the same events I did. You aren’t taking away programs, these are traditions that are being erased from the children’s lives that could give them memories to last their lifetime.

The district has already taken away Lorado Taft, which is an amazing growing, team-building and learning experience which develops unbreakable bonds of friendship and teaches kids to learn and grow through an experience of great independence.

The district has cut most of the hands-on learning through field trips. It’s difficult to re-create these situations in a classroom setting.

The district took away the fifth grade band. Most kids would have never picked up an instrument if it wasn’t for this, now lost, opportunity. Some of the students would have continued to learn music based on the experience they were given through the school. What a loss.

And then field day, once at Lions Park, now scaled back to a few hours on school’s property; another confidence builder for all abilities and levels of skill, as well as a fantastic way for the students to develop social skills with other students, parents and teachers.

Will we need to rely on the Internet and social networking to develop these very important skills? Interacting with human beings is on the way toward becoming extinct. I think the district has completely missed the big picture. The kids are losing touch by interacting through technology and misunderstanding how to be social.

The students will disconnect and suffer in the long run. How will they learn to interact with other people if we don’t give them the opportunity? Give them the tools they need to shine and build their own self-confidence. These aren’t just programs, they are character builders.

Please contact Kaneland School District No. 302 Business Office if you agree with this letter and the statements I have made. It is so important that we be the voice for the students. They need us to speak for them.

Thank you for your time.

Michelle Conklin
Maple Park