Elena Akers is a senior at Wheeling Park High School; the following is a submission to Weelunk.com through Mrs. Carly Seals’ Creative Writing class.
On certain days, it is not unusual to find a cluster of students waiting outside the doors of the music department first thing in the morning. They are not there to cause a ruckus. They are not there to simply avoid waiting in the gym. They are not lost.
They are waiting for the music directors to come unlock the doors to the only place they feel they belong.
There are too many kids who see school as a chore, a place they are forced to come by law, a waste of time. The kids who see school this way are the ones who don’t have any reason to make them show up. I know firsthand that feeling disappears once you become a part of something. For me and so many others, the reason that makes school worth it is music.
The music department is like a home away from home, and all the people there are family. You’ll find students in the band room before first period, organizing for the day and catching up with friends. Every period of the school day, the rooms are filled with multiple music classes, whether they are band, strings, choir, piano, music theory, jazz band, etc. Some students make several appearances throughout the day in different groups. Lunch periods are sacrificed for another band class. Activity periods are spent practicing on one’s own. Nearly any given day, a music group is practicing after school. Through all of this, students are not there because they have to be, but because they want to be.
They want the time with friends. They want the hard work towards getting superior ratings or being an all-state musician. They want to steal Nutrigrain bars from the band director’s private stash (admittedly, he doesn’t mind). They want to be able to stand for that final appearance at the Festival of Sound.
They want to feel they are a part of something that matters.
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Now, in no way am I saying school doesn’t matter. Getting a good education and preparing for your future is always a priority. But with the constant pressure of maintaining a perfect GPA, balancing challenging classes, always studying for the next test, and worrying about grades, sometimes you have to give yourself a break. Some days, school can be so difficult that the only thing keeping me from a breakdown is counting the class periods until I can escape to my band class and lose myself in music.
Being a part of the music program is something that many don’t understand until they are in it. It’s humbling – you become just one person in something so much bigger than yourself – but it is also fulfilling, in the knowledge that each person is needed for the picture to come together, for the parts to actually become a song. It makes you want to work harder to see the end result, to see the success, and to know you aren’t letting the groups down. The pressure can be intense, but it is ultimately so rewarding. It makes you love it.
It makes you want to come to school because it makes you want to be there, in the music department.
So on those days when the directors are a little late to school and the music kids are waiting in the hallway, I wish the teachers wouldn’t tell them to go to the gym or cafeteria. I wish they’d let them wait. These kids have found the one thing that may be the reason they want to come to school. They’ve found their friends there. They’ve found a safe place. They’ve found a home.
I wish everyone could feel what it’s like to be a part of something like the music department at Wheeling Park High School. It gives even the worst days a meaning and only brightens the best days even more. Throughout the cacophony that is life, sometimes music is the only melody that makes sense.