A Downward Spiral

I was recently asked to write a second article for a local newspaper highlighting positive aspects of my high school (“Music Program Is One Of Best Kept Secrets”). Once I was able to start it, the article came easily. I just had to find the right topic. However, I had unwittingly alluded to the fact that there weren’t as many pros to the school as some people might think. The editor caught on to this, and through a series of phone calls and emails, convinced me to weave more of this concept into the article. I managed to do just that, and what I wrote really got me thinking.

I mentioned that I had an excellent transition and introduction to high school through band camp, and I truly believe that the week spent practically living together made the experience less overwhelming. However, I think there was more to it than just how it happened. The ‘who’ behind it certainly played a role in it as well.

Just four years ago, the students of Bedford High School were friendly, welcoming, and willing to lend a hand. Those that I came into contact with were intelligent, ambitious, and hard working, and I came into contact with quite a few. It probably didn’t hurt that I was friends with a lot of upperclassmen through my best friend and her older sister. However, I noticed that my entire freshman class had made connections and was fitting in quite well. It was quite a successful year all around.

Now, as I look around at my senior classmates and the incoming and rising classes, there is a remarkable difference. Work ethic seems to have disappeared, respect is nonexistent, and the amiable and spirited atmosphere that once filled the school has left the building. Students that at one point were top in the school, highly responsible, and highly respected have become apathetic and unreliable. The drive and ambition that I admired so much in the upperclassmen of my freshman year seems to have gotten lost in translation. And there’s no reason to talk about school spirit and pride because it’s a fairytale anymore. What happened?

Maybe it’s the relentless testing students are put through that has caused the decline in drive. The Ohio Graduation Test seems to be the current basis for our curriculum, which means we are learning how to test instead of how to learn. And since it’s so easy only the best students seem to be able to pass it, there are more practices and exercises and workshops for it than ever. Gotta keep those test scores up. Who cares what happens after you pass them? They’ve taken top priority, and it’s rather draining. I still have to hear about it, and I passed them with flying colors the first time my sophomore year. They’ve finally broken us.

The lack of spirit could be due to the fact that we have such a dismal football record. Bedford is a football town, so the success of our basketball teams, or our championship girls’ softball team, makes very little impact. It’s all about the football team. The team that has won roughly eleven out of forty games in the past four years. That’s inspiring… I love football, and I cheer my heart out as I sit in the band bleachers behind the end zone. But a person can only be positive for so long when they have to mark an ‘L’ on the sheet week after week.

As for the disrespect and wrecked work ethic, that comes straight from the student body. Through a combination of environment (meaning former; we have a large number of students that have moved into the district from Cleveland and other suburbs over the past four years) and upbringing, a certain mentality has developed throughout the population. In students’ eyes, adults are merely figure heads, not persons with authority that need to be headed and respected. And student officers and leaders? Forget about it. They’re less than dirt. Being in a class or group doesn’t mean actually doing the work, but rather counting on other people to do it. Someone else will cover for you, sing loud enough to cover your sour notes and missed lyrics, share a paper with you so you can turn it in with a slight edit here or there. That’s how things work.

Though programs and policies are being created in an attempt to reward positive actions, there are so many students that have hopped aboard this negligent train of thought that they’re overshadowing the few that still give one hundred percent, that still strive for excellence, not mediocrity. Even the organizations and courses that cater to outstanding students have been infiltrated by indolence and flippancy. Excellence is quickly spiraling into oblivion.

What more can really be done to reverse this deterioration? Is there some way to revive the dying art of respect and rebuild the academic community? I’ve always been told that we, the students, are the future. If this is the case, the future of Bedford High School looks very dim.


Powerful Magic

Some things in high school are quickly forgotten- like those algebra functions or which mystery chemical reacts with carbon. Some people fade from life until they’re only a face or a name years later. The groups you were in all meld together, and passed and failed assignments become blurred. Things that were such a big deal before graduation escape the mind after.

However, there are some memories that truly will last a lifetime, and people who you will always remember. The Bedford High School musical certainly creates these kinds of memories and connections. Perhaps it’s the vast amount of time spent with the cast, crew, pit, and directors. It could be the performance itself, with costumes, drops, props, and an audience. Or maybe it’s the end to the the entire production that really creates that connection. Whatever the link happens to be, it is shared throughout the entire group of production members, and will certainly provide stories to tell children and grandchildren.

It is with particular emotion this year that we close the production of Guys and Dolls. First, with a majority of the cast being seniors, there are large amounts of nostalgia and tears, particularly for the few of us who have been a part of TheArts since freshman year. Second, the rumor is that it is officially the last year that Sandi Bambic will be running the musical, which may well mean the end of musicals at Bedford period. It is not only the end for a generation of students, but also the end of an era for an educator and an institution.

Nevertheless, Bambic and her students are taking it out with a bang. This musical has had audiences rolling in the aisles, and even the cast was rolling back stage. The voices that soared through the auditorium have left listeners stunned, and the choreography has raised much applause by itself. Aided as always by the professional backdrops, costumes, and choreographers, the production has certainly not suffered in quality from the morose fate waiting once the stage empties after the final performance. Even after a single performance, the praises began rolling in. Closing night will no doubt top all the previous performances.

Throughout the years, real magic has been created on the stage of Bedford High. Not the kind with wands and fairy godmothers (though they have been a part of it a couple of times), but the kind that truly touches the soul. Through hard work, late nights, and trying obstacles, the students under the direction of this amazing lady have transported dozens of audiences to other worlds and different time periods. The streets of New York, a royal palace, a fantastical land called Oz– each of these has spent some time in little old Bedford, Ohio, along with many others. Many unique characters have walked across the stage, from lions and tinmen to princesses and princes to cabaret dancers, rockstars, traveling salesmen, orphans, and a family searching for happiness. There is neither a physical wand nor actual fairy dust that brings everything together and entertains an audience. But the magic of the theater lies inside each cast member, audience member, writer, composer, choreographer, conductor, and director. It is something that many people outgrow, do not care to keep in touch with, and allow to pass by the wayside. It is what has developed societies, created technologies, and fueled lives and passions since the beginning of civilization. And while it may be a simple concept, it is probably the most powerful magic out there: imagination.

For the last time, the imaginations of the audience will be swept away for two hours of uninterrupted bliss as they enter the world of entrepreneur Nathan Detroit, his cabaret dancer fiance Adelaide, the suave and savvy gambler Sky Masterson, and Sergeant Sarah Brown, the Mission doll who’s trying to save all their souls. The music will have them tapping their toes for weeks, the dances will have them gasping in awe, and the jokes will make their sides sore from laughing.

Even after the final bows, when the curtain closes the portal that each person in the auditorium was drawn into, when the conductor has put down his baton, the costumes and makeup are all taken off, and everyone has returned to their normal life, there will still be bits of magic. A strain of a song will suddenly pop into mind, or a phrase will creep into conversation. One might be overtaken with the urge to pull out a dance move. The memories of that flight of imagination will keep the magic alive, as it has with every show. And each person will remember how special the experience was, how much fun they had, what they accomplished. These memories will not be forgotten. They are memories to last a lifetime. Just experience the magic, and see for yourself…