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Keep Middle Schoolers Moving Forward

Build on Their Passions

By Paul Rayius, middle school band director, Seminole, Florida

I'll start with the happy ending: One of my students, Ian, was recognized as the 2005–06 "Turn Around Student of the Year" at Osceola Middle School, where I teach band. The award is given each year to one student who has shown remarkable improvement academically, intellectually, and socially.


Ian was never a problem in my band class, but in sixth and seventh grades, he was having a tough time in his other classes. I went to bat for Ian when they wanted to pull him out of band for extra help in his "academic" classes. He is so dedicated to music that he agreed to switch instruments so he could take Beginning Percussion during the one period it would fit into his schedule.

When it came Ian's turn to be recognized at the awards breakfast, our assistant principal acknowledged that through those rough couple of years, often the only reason that Ian even came to school was to attend band class. She concluded with some of the good things that he accomplished in his eighth-grade year. This is the kind of feedback no performance assessment can provide. Now, Ian is halfway through his freshman year, in the marching band, and doing quite well in school.