Playing and Singing and Reading and Not Testing

Oh, my gosh, you guys. This 40-degrees-and rainy thing just isn’t acceptable anymore. A day or two is fine, but this is way too much. I feel like I’m sleep-walking through the days because of sunlight deprivation. I need to go take some vitamin D.

Today’s the first day of state testing, and while I sent J into school with a refusal letter, I wasn’t entirely sure that she was going to refuse. She was under the impression that no one she knew was refusing this year, and I’m sure it’s a bit more intimidating in a new school. Still, I stocked her up with some reading material so that she’d have something to do. [She came and reported that she had refused.] Among the possible reading materials was Book Three of March, by John Lewis.

If this isn’t on your reading list already, you should totally add it. It’s John Lewis’s memoir of his time in the Civil Rights movement, and J and I have both really enjoyed it (we’ve both read the first two books). Actually, J really loved the first one, and then halfway through the second one she set it down and came and gave me a long hug. “How’s it going?” I asked. “Okay. . . ” she started, and then she said that actually, things had gotten pretty violent and disturbing and I was like, yep, sounds like the Civil Rights movement to me. Come to think of it, I think Book Three’s going to lead with the 1963 Birmingham church bombing, which, if I had thought about it, maybe I should have warned her about before she read it in school. In any case, I’d argue that time spent reading that graphic memoir is much better spent than time taking the ELA exam.

What else? J was just in a band concert, the big band festival extravaganza our school district does at Proctors. I guess they rotate between chorus, band, and orchestra? I think that’s how it works. I know I went to the choral show at Proctors a couple of years ago when M was in it. That year they were super-sly and did a final song where all of the different choruses sang simultaneously as an inducement to keep parents from bugging out early. Since then M has dropped everything music-related, which is a bummer, but J’s still in for chorus and trumpet, so my hopes are high we’ll keep at least one kid in music mode through high school.

You know I’m not always as super-impressed with our school system as apparently we’re all supposed to be, but they are nailing this music stuff, let me tell you. One thing I like about the concerts is that they always combine and have a bunch of different levels playing at the same event so the older kids can be role models to the younger. For the band concert, they took it a step further, performing a piece by a high school alum composer and performing pieces with the Potsdam Brass Quintet, so even the super-musical high school kids had role models right there. This wasn’t the only impressive school concert I’ve attended this year, either. At J’s last chorus concert, they sang a super-fun song and one of the soloists was last seen performing on Broadway. So there.

And this is sort of off-topic, but speaking of Proctors, I really loved the documentary Most Valuable Players, which is currently available on Netflix instant. Basically, it’s about an awards show at a theater in Pennsylvania where the best of high school thespians are honored live on local tv. I was like, why oh why isn’t Proctors doing this for the Capital District? It looks so fun. You know: crazy,  but fun.




  1. Claire

    My son is in third grade, and I opted him out as well. I wrote a letter last week, and got a nastygram from the superintendent in response. I was told to tell my building administrator if I still wanted to opt out after reading the nastygram, which, shockingly, I still did! I totally agree that a morning spent reading is better for literary development than a morning spent testing. (I’m with you on the weather, too!)

  2. Christine B.

    Yay to all parents who sent in their refusal letters! Go you!!
    I believe that Proctor’s actually does some sort of “awards program” for local HS drama and/or arts/music. If I find info on it, I’ll let you know.

  3. Aliza

    I was really disappointed in the band festival! Like you, I loved the choral festival four or five years ago. It moved me to tears it was so good, and I was so psyched for the band festival. I didn’t really enjoy the selections (even the Nisky alum’s piece) and was disappointed that they just did band after band after band and no collaboration between the age groups. I have to admit I don’t know beans about music, but my dad was disappointed too and thought the music was bombastic.

  4. Jo Anne Assini

    it is easier for kids to sing than to play instruments. So choral concerts with kids will always sound better than instrumental ones!

  5. Marta Ozisik

    As a certain press secretary might say:
    “Asked and answered!”

    The High School Musical Theatre Awards will be held on Saturday, May 20, 2017 on the Proctors main stage!

    The best high school musical in the region has been recognized for years, but I agree, this will be crazy, good fun in the style of the Tonys!

    Check it out at:

  6. Ha! Bombastic! There were a couple of pieces that I actively disliked, and a couple I really liked. J and I agreed that we just enjoy it more if it’s something we sort of know already. . . which isn’t many, since we don’t get out much.

  7. I was totally unaware of this. Now I wonder if it’s as awesome as the one in the documentary. . . I was saying to Christine that maybe I only haven’t heard of it b/c my kids aren’t super theater-y.

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