Saturday, January 23, 2010

Darius Goes West

What a great week to start to the 2nd semester!! There was just enough sunshine to make me optimistic that Winter will be short and Spring will be here before we know it. I decided to write about the special opportunity I've had to visit with Ms. Parker and Mrs. Edelman's advisee over the course of the past few weeks as they've watched Darius Goes West, a critically-acclaimed documentary about a 15 year-old with a fatal disease (Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy).

I'll write about the documentary in a little bit, but I wanted to use this week's Blog as an opportunity to talk about some of the great things that happen in advisee. Advisers serve a very special role in our middle school. They are motivators, providers of information, mediators, role models, and friends. They celebrate birthdays, lead community service activities, and provide students with a forum to discuss important issues. In many cases, advisors foster relationships with each advisee that continue for many years. I think that the advisee program in our middle school (and at Providence Day in general) is a point of pride, and is one of the things that makes us special.
Watching Darius Goes West with two groups of 6th grade boys is a prime example of what makes the advisee program special. Providence Day is a school grounded in academic excellence across each division, and it should be a point of pride. At the same time, we should never underestimate the value of what happens outside of the classroom. As a parent, I want my children to be challenged academically and reach their academic potential, but, more importantly, I want them to be good people. Activities like watching Darius Goes West help our students develop empathy and understanding. These are the types of activities that happen on a daily basis in advisee. Groups not only watch videos that lead to enlightening discussions, but they complete service learning activities, they talk about the physical and emotional changes that they are experiencing, they solve problems together and help each other through a challenging day, and the list goes on and on. They also have lots of fun. I watched two groups meeting together one day this week having a crazy sock party (as a part of Spirit Week). The smiles and laughter was wonderful, and I left thinking that it would be hard for those young ladies to leave advisee and not enjoy the rest of the day.
In conclusion, I managed to say far too little about Darius Goes West, and for that I apologize. It is a wonderful documentary that will make you laugh and cry, and I would strongly encourage you to watch it if you haven't seen it already. You can visit the official website at to watch the entire movie, and learn more about the making of the film, about Darius' personal journey, and about Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
As always, I welcome your comments. Thanks for reading,

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