Thursday, April 7, 2011
On March 17th the kids and I went to Helen's first music concert, Helen was extremely excited. When we got there we didn't know where to go since this was our first experience of an evening event at her school. We stood there in front of staff, none of whom I recognized, for a few very awkward minutes. One of them finally said, "Helen, are you here to sing?" The tone in her voice led me to believe she was surprised to see her, which then made me think, maybe she wasn't supposed to be here. Helen answered with a "Yes", she was then sent to a small auditorium to sit and wait for her turn. The rest of us just stood there not knowing where to go. I looked into the gym and saw the other families so we went in there, no thanks to the staff. We looked around for six seats so we could take our places, but there were none to be found. Only half the gym was filled with chairs, so I went back out into the hallway and asked if they were going to put more chairs out. I was told all the chairs were out. I was in disbelief so I asked, "These are the only chairs you have?" I was told, "They are all we have in the whole building." I then said, "You mean you don't have enough seats for all the families who came to see their child sing?" The response, "That is correct." The kids and I went and stood against the wall waiting for Helen to perform, just our luck, her group is last. I then saw a staff member come in with more chairs so I told Ted to go and grab some chairs for us. We started to file in the new row of chairs when a woman came and sat right in the middle. There were not six empty chairs on either side of her. The Assistant Principal must have seen the frustration on my face and he went and asked the woman to move down. She bit his head off, I couldn't believe it. After he said a few words to her, he walked away to get chairs from his office for us. As soon as he left the woman moved down one chair, still not enough for all of us to sit. Noah ended up on my lap, and it was very stuffy in the gym. The fifth graders are the first to perform. The music teacher explains what song they are going to sing. I don't think she even introduced herself to us, and she sounded like she would rather be anyplace else but here. While they are singing there is so much noise going on behind us we can barely hear the singers. Because the gym is only filled up halfway with chairs, the other half is being used by younger siblings to run around. The sad thing about that, the parents are doing nothing to quiet them down. In fact, the music teacher, the one with the microphone, says nothing. The first group is done singing and I am shocked to see what happened next....people left! I have never in my entire life seen that happen. I have been told by people I have shared this story with, that it does happen, and it's sad. By the time Helen's group performed, there were plenty of seats for everyone, there were even empty seats. No wonder the school doesn't need anymore chairs, they don't expect people to stay for the entire performance! Helen's fourth grade class is finally performing and I'm not happy. She is standing between two boys, and I'm not sure they are even in her class. Now I'm not trying to knock boys, but they really don't have the same compassion as girls do. Helen has always been put by the girls in her class, usually the ones who look out for her. They have heard her sing, so they are not surprised the night of the concert. I will be the first to admit that Helen can't carry a tune in a basket, and she's often off beat, but she LOVES to sing, so I LOVE to hear her sing. The girl in front of her turns to look at Helen and then turns back around giggling. She looks back every now and then at Helen and then turns with either a giggle, or a look of annoyance. One of the boys standing next to her keeps trying to scoot away from her, as if she had cooties. I am so angry by the time the concert is over that I go and complain to the Assistant Principal. He agreed with me and is also a little stunned at what he witnessed. He asked me to write a letter or send an email so it's in writing. I sent a letter to him and to the Principal last week and then a follow up email on Tuesday. I heard from them both the same day. The Assistant thanked me for the formal letter I had sent the previous week. He told me he makes it a point to stop and talk to Helen. He shot hoops with her at recess last week and was very surprised at how well she shoots. The Principal responded with a long email thanking me for the letter. He and the Assistant both agreed with me and are in the process of making changes. I thanked him for listening to me since some people would have thought it was just a parent of a special needs child complaining again. I told him most people aren't fortunate enough to have a special person in their lives and therefore don't know how important it is for us to speak up. I am Helen's voice, thanks for listening. Until next time- Take Care, Sue PS....sorry for no paragraphs, the program wouldn't put them in!!