Glass Half Full: On ‘track’ for success | SierraSun.com

Glass Half Full: On ‘track’ for success

Ruth Glass

It's been a quiet week at Lake Tahoe School. No, it hasn't. It's never a quiet week at LTS, nor is it on any campus this time of the year. Schools are bustling, thriving communities on a downhill run to graduation. Each day is filled with something special, and I am often reminded of how impressively our children have grown.

The Tah-Neva Middle School Track Championships were held last Wednesday at Carson High School. Thirty-eight students from Lake Tahoe School and 43 from Incline Middle School competed. Among the pleasures of the day are the many opportunities when athletes from various schools pit their skills and endurance against each other, perform to the best of their abilities, recognize and appreciate tough competition, and win and lose with grace and good sportsmanship.

The fact is many participants were consistently among the top finishers. Perhaps not surprisingly, given our athletic and outdoor programs, Incline kiddos do well in the distance events. For reasons not quite so readily evident, Lake Tahoe School student also shine in the hurdles.

I say "not so evident" because LTS does not have a track. Spring practice begins with herds of budding hurdlers pounding their way down the middle school hallway after school. They are certainly inspired to stay low. When weather allows, coaches and the team move outside, where we use the back field and beyond. Until our first meet, however, no athlete had run a full 80 meter hurdles.

Middle school is an age that many adults fear and would just as soon skip. I have long felt the opposite: I love this age. Watching hundreds of middle school students on Wednesday was a reminder of many of the reasons why. Team members and adults alike take considerable pride in victory. Those victories sometimes come in the form of a spot on the podium.

Equally valued are personal bests. It is memorably inspiring to hear a child who perhaps finished middle of the pack or later report, with justifiable pride, that s/he achieved a PB in the event. Given appropriate support and feedback, young people can be remarkably astute and satisfied at assessing their own progress.

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The championships also require a special brand of patience on the part of all team members (and parents). The first event began at 11 a.m. The last finished up at about 7:30 p.m. While students are allowed to leave with a parent following the completion of their events, few do. Instead they remain to cheer on their teammates. Some years, the heat is intense. Wednesday required several extra layers for warmth. Athletes used their down time to hang around team tents, to chat with competitors, to read books, to cheer for each other. Middle schoolers are equipped with a special brand of energy and enthusiasm. Adults either "get" that or they don't.

When it's time to pack up, kids do so, disassembling the tents and picking up trash with very little direction. They carry their and the school's equipment to the bus. They thank their coaches and teachers for working with them. They head home to prepare for another day of classes. They do it all in ways that are so very impressive, if you know anything about middle school children. They are thriving. We should all be proud.

Among other things, IMS seventh-grade girls placed second in the small school team championships standing. LTS's eigth-grade girls placed third in the same — and there are only five members of the team.

Ruth Glass is headmaster at Lake Tahoe School. She can be reached for comment through her blog at http://www.laketahoeschool.org.