The dance that followed the game was another highlight of the evening. Each of the students made their way to the dark gym that was complete with a makeshift D.J. holding a microphone up to a boombox. I was surprised to see the number of elementary school kids at this function, and even more surprised by the manner in which they were dancing. These 4th and 5th graders could literally move their backsides in ways that will not be invented by club goers for another 20 years. Their rhythm and the sheer ability to move is literally astounding. I have never been to a dance before where people were literally dancing with as much intensity as they possibly could, and I have never felt more at home. I know the feeling of needing to move so intensely to get something out. At one point I couldn't hold back any longer and joined in with a common dance called the "stanky leg." I have to say that my students were pretty impressed at just how stanky my legs could get! On a side note, Chiquita found me at the dance and said she will be back from the learning center in 45 days. I am mildly sure she was only speaking to me because here friends wanted to meet the guy from High School Musical, but I am glad that I was able to tell her that I miss her. It was clear that she was by far one of the best dancers in the entire school. I think we may have found a way through to her. I have to admit that I was very concerned with the amount of students I was convinced were either drunk or high. Now I know that this may not be totally uncommon for high school students, but the openness of it all is what caught me by surprise. Many of the students did little to hide the fact that they were intoxicated, in fact I had a conversation with one of my students about protecting his brain from marijuana that I'm positive he won't remember. Apparently drug use is very common in this county. One of the kindergarten teachers mentioned that she was a witness to her 5 year old students rolling "doobies" the other day in class. Once again, I am just trying to be an observer and not judge the situation. I know there is a whole host of reasons that drug use runs rampant in these extremely poor communities.
On the upside I actually had a wonderful day with parent teacher conferences. At the risk of showing my own prejudices, I will admit that I did not expect many parents to show up. That hope was quickly shattered because I was literally in conferences from 10am until 4:30pm. The parents and students I spoke with were also surprisingly concerned about their grades. This was also another aspect of the conferences that I did not expect. There is an urgency here, because many of the parents have witnessed first hand what happens when you squander an education. There was one mother today that had to have her daughter sign her name. I now understand their fear because many of them do not understand what their children are learning, but know that the only way their children will have choice in their lives is if they are privy to a quality education. That is what it all comes down to...choice. The one thing I took away from today is that these parents love their children fiercely and wish nothing more than their success. They also mentioned that they want me to call them so they can "whoop" their kids if they get out of line. It is a great relief to know that I have so many parents standing behind me...with paddles :)
P.S. I wanted to include some more pictures, so here is a picture from the day that 2 of my students poured ethyl alcohol on a pile of salt and started a fire in the lab!