In the past, I have blogged about the first day of Hebrew School for my son, how they have a festival outside and a barbecue as a way of trying to set a positive tone for the year. It has been successful in the past and I think it is a great idea. It is interesting then that the first day of school is a fun experience but the last day of school, traditionally one that everyone looks forward to, is a negative experience.
The concept is good. The want to do a schoolwide arts festival. It starts with a schoolwide T’filah (paryer service) with each class leading a different prayer. While praying is not an art, based on the poetry you find in the prayers and the singing and different melodies, the feeling is there are aspects of the arts in prayer, so it is appropriate. I have no problem with this part.
After the service is over they leave the sanctuary and go to the auditorium where some of the different groups perform. The sound system is always terrible. It is hard to understand what is going on and while parents might enjoy watching their kids perform (even if the performance is not that great), the kids are bored. Even those who perform are bored once their part is finished.
In addition, the teachers are supposed to meet the kids and sit as a class and the parents are supposed to sit with the kids as well. The teachers do not take this seriously, and some of them, at times, are leading various groups in performance. Some teachers do not even meet the kids but just let the parents bring their child(ren) upstairs. Still, the parents have to figure this out. It is utter chaos.
I have seen it gone down hill every year. Every year my son gets more agitate and frustrated. What is supposed to be an enjoyable event is really anything but. The program also goes longer than a regular day of Hebrew school.
This year they sent out an e-mail, almost begging parents to bring the kids to the program and not have them miss the last day of school. Still, each year less and less kids show up. My wife and I have always made sure to bring our son but we both feel that next year, we are just going to skip it.
As a side note, often times when someone complains, the feeling is don’t just complain, offer an alternative. So, here goes: They should continue to keep the school wide T’filah and they should continue to have the band play a few selections. Beyond that, each teacher should be responsible for teaching their class once Israeli/Hebrew song (it can be coordinated by the principal if so desired). The song should be no more than five minute. Each class performs their song and when finished, have a hotdog roast (as they do now) and let the kids out early. That’s my suggestion!