The competition was broken into three categories which were exhibits, documentaries, and performances. Each category requirement could be satisfied by an individual or group presentation. As we arrived at Seton Hall University, we came across both my niece and my daughter along with their respective groups and teachers. I could feel the competitive spirit in the air. The students had been up since 6:00 a.m. or earlier to meet a bus leaving Paterson by 6:45 a.m. to make their 7:30 a.m. start time and nervousness and fatigue was setting in. I had the opportunity to be an audience member in two excellent documentaries presented by the freshman and sophomore students from Paterson Eastside High School. One was an eye opening documentary uncovering the unsanitary practices of the meat packing industry prior to the creation of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the other was an interesting debate concerning world relations and the views on appeasement dating back to Adolf Hitler to the presidential campaign bid of Barack Obama. The third documentary was one delivered by my daughter Noellee where she took an in-depth look at Brown vs. Board of Education, the landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court that declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional. All three presentations were outstanding.
After the documentary presentations, we had some time to kill before the announcement of the qualifiers for the state competition at William Paterson University, so we walked the beautiful campus of Seton Hall and had lunch. The Jubilee Hall Auditorium was filled to standing room only capacity. We anxiously awaited the winners/qualifiers names to be called. We nervously sat through each category cheering for other schools and hoping that our schools would be called and lo and behold the Paterson school district had qualifiers in each category. I was almost moved to tears as my daughter and my niece brought home ribbons. Oh the looks of Mr. Balsamo, Ms. Carlock, and Mr. Ollo as words cannot describe the happiness and pride expressed by each of them as their students walked across that stage.
Now let’s get to the significance of this post and why I spent time detailing a part of my day at the New Jersey History Day Northern Regional Competition. This was an academic event and there was not a reporter in site. No little note pads and pencils (or I guess Ipads and Netbooks in 2011), no cameras, no news trucks, no news anchors; no one but proud parents, students and teachers cheering for their children who had performed in such an excellent manner. After all it was only a history contest; nothing newsworthy. Not a basketball or football game. No touchdowns or three point baskets, just children spouting historical facts or their understanding of history and its connection to their future.
Now let’s flip the script and say those same students were now in the streets in gangs or had been a part of a crime or had been carrying weapons, I am sure there would have been a swarm of reporters there ready to let the world know how horrid our children are or can be. I’m sure they would have been there as well if it had been the star quarterback, running back, point guard or center So that’s why I am taking the time to let the world know of the wonderful event that took place at Seton Hall University this day.
We must get our priorities straight. Academics are just as important, in fact more important than athletics in my humble view. For some reason we do not embrace academics in the same manner that we embrace athletics, thereby causing our students to think that academics are not really that important. Too many of our students think that in order for them to be noticed or recognized, they have to be a part of one of the sports teams. Well I am here to tell you that today was far more important than any football or basketball game will ever be. You want to talk priorities…… critically think about this from USAToday:
I believe we can sum that up with “Enough Said,” and with that said, congratulations to Noellee Howell, Jada Osgood and to all of the rest of the students and staff members who qualified for the state competition at William Paterson University. The competition will be the held May 7, 2011. As always, I welcome your commentary in the comment section of the blog.“The Rutgers University Programming Association paid Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi $32,000 Thursday to offer important advice on her hairstyle, fist pumps, as well as the GTL — gym, tanning, laundry — lifestyle. And that’s $2,000 more than the $30,000 the university is paying [Toni] Morrison to deliver Rutgers’ commencement address in May.”