I sit in an office at Novi High School. Outside I hear the sounds of a marching band.
Today is the Novi High School Marching Band's Annual Fanfare. Marching bands from around the state come to compete against each other, demonstrating remarkable skills and providing quite a show.
It is a culture that I know little about. I was never in a marching band. I played in my school's band from the fifth grade through the 9th grade. But the practice thing proved to be a stumbling block and when I went to high school I did not pursue band.
Looking back on it, that was probably a mistake. Why?
What I have learned as I watch the Novi High School Marching Band is that it is a tremendously powerful and positive culture. It requires a ton of work - marching band camp, lots of practice, learning not only music but how and when and where to move. At times the director, and at times the students, get frustrated.
But through their efforts students learn the value of hard work, discipline, how every one must work together to accomplish a goal. Students learn the value of being part of something bigger than themselves.
What these students do is not measured on a test. What these students do does not get published in the paper. What these students do does not lead the news at night.
But what these students do is tremendously important.
It connects them to the each other. It also connects them to Novi High School. They build relationships with each other and with teachers and staff who push them to excel.
These students have a purpose, a goal, something that they can invest their time and energy in.
When measuring the worth of a high school it is important to remember that a test score is not the only, not the most important, and certainly not the single best factor to consider when deciding if a high school measures up.
Politicians pass laws that purport to be able to measure the worth of a school. Attendance, graduation rates, test scores. Those things are routinely measured and publicized.
I would suggest that there are many other ways to measure the worth of a high school. I would also suggest that being in a marching band may have a greater impact on future success than the performance on a state assessment.
So play on Maestro!