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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Silver Medal!!


Yesterday's Blog entry featured the outstanding accomplishments of our basketball teams, with both varsity teams earning well deserved Scholar Athlete Team recognition for our boys and girls from the state athletic governing council.

Today's Blog entry announces more great news. The Heatly Elementary Chorus was awarded Silver Medal status in competition with many other schools in the New York State School Music Association festival. The judges were very impressed by the performance of these talented boys and girls under the direction of music teacher Tiffany Dzembo. Last year marked the initial foray into the competitive music arena by our chorus and they proudly walked away with a Bronze Medal rating. As you can see, their effort this year attracted even higher performance ratings by the judges. Be prepared next year to celebrate a Gold Medal as the chorus continues to progress as they gain more experience.

Presenting yourself in public competition, like our chorus and sports teams, is both a challenge and a risk. Good or bad, your performance is witnessed by many people. Mistakes are magnified. Pressure is intense. Preparation is important. Focus is essential. Dedication and resilience and persistence contribute toward success. Teamwork is absolutely necessary for harmony in sound or action. Each of these attributes, and many others cultivated by similar activities, extend a person far beyond the actual event, whether it's music competition or a sporting contest.  These experiences often build confidence and composure that represent a benefit whenever the person engages in a new challenge. In short, these skills and characteristics expand possibilities of the individuals who participate in extra-curricular activities. Once developed, these qualities remain accessible to the performer in many different opportunities in daily life in the future.

While performance in sports and chorus is measured for all to see, the value of the accompanying statistics that dictate medal status or victories pales in comparison with the worth placed on state mandated assessments from the perspective of the No Child Left Behind legislation which emphasizes frequent, high pressure tests - even though both types of "tests" are closely associated with producing success later in life. Unfortunately, the gains of extra-curricular experiences are considered "soft" data (i.e. revealing subjective indicators of personal qualities and attitude) versus the "hard" data yielded by assessments measured in percentiles, scaled scores and standard deviations (generating numbers easily converted into objective evaluations). There is a saying that bears repeating when examining these state mandated tests in selected academic areas of Math and English Language Arts - "We measure what we treasure." That is, this could be interpreted as a reflection of the priorities and values of the state education department.

Sadly, it appears that many schools this year have been forced to contend with economic problems of declining resources by reducing extracurricular activities. Again, with demanding pressure to meet with success in those areas assessed by the state - with the resulting data published on the state education department's website for all to see - the scarcity of resources eventually points fingers to those elements of the curriculum and those of the supportive extra-curricular opportunities that are not considered important enough to measure in state-wide exams.

The Green Island community has reason to be proud of the extraordinary accomplishments of our learners across the full spectrum of experiences provided at Heatly, regardless of whether they are assumed to be significant by the state education department. They count to us and they should matter to you.


  1. My daughter is part of the Elementary Chorus! I am very proud off all the students in the chorus,but must say that Ms.Dzembo is an awesome teacher and really makes the kids want to better,and has has a totally positive impact on my daughter, and has introduced her to acting as well as singing, i am so grateful she has a teacher like her!

  2. I am thrilled to learn that Heatly has an Elementary Chorus (a mere 11 years ago as I was graduating, no such group existed). What a fabulous opportunity for the children and families.

    This post speaks to me deeply, especially today, the Feast Day of the Patron Saint of Educators (St. John Baptist de La Salle). Reading the paragraph that highlights the realities facing our schools, educators and students reminds me of De La Salle's encouragement that teachers touch the hearts of the whole student. The continued reminder that the whole student is focused on at Heatly has given me pride as an alumna.

  3. We are so proud of the Heatly Elementary Chorus! We hope to provide more opportunities in the arts to the learners at Heatly in the future. Anyone interested can come to our meeting on 4/12 at 6:30 p.m. in the Heatly Library or contact Ms. Dzembo for more information.

  4. I have to say my daughter is in the Elementary chorus as well and she enjoy's every bit of it and without Ms. Dzembo who know's where the music would be today at Heatly!!!

    Bravo to her!!!