Students’ rude reaction to performers disappoints


Jilly Dos Santos

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Today marked the last assembly for Rock Bridge’s 2013 class, and wrapped up the year with performances and awards that showcased the very best of RBHS. It was a special event, with dozens of former teachers and administrators present, recognizing the 40th anniversary of the school.

It’s a shame that today we must also recognize the atrocious way we students treat our classmates in performing arts.

Rock Bridge's Jazz Ensemble performs during the May 2 Assembly. Photo by Mikaela Acton.
Rock Bridge’s Jazz Ensemble performs during the May 2 Assembly. Photo by Mikaela Acton

Each assembly starts and ends with the jazz ensemble playing songs as we arrive, songs the musicians have spent countless hours of practice perfecting, only to receive no  acknowledgement other than from rehearsed MCs. But this is to be expected, for at these moments, the band is just playing background music to usher classmates and teachers in and out. Later they’ll get their moment to shine, showcasing their talent and hard work in a performance just for them.

But as we all know, their moment of glory rarely comes. Sure, there are individual moments where friends cheer for their drummer friend or teachers lead a standing ovation, but for the most part, we ignore the band. We ridicule them by mocking how they close their eyes during intense moments of the song or the rests that  we perceive as awkward silences, not understanding complex musical arrangements. What was with that solo? It was all over the place. How embarrassing for them. And for all their hard work, these students don’t even get to play on the stage, forcing the camera to shakily pan across the sea of students who are more interested with their hand being on screen than recognizing the musicians.

Things didn’t improve this morning when our award-winning show choirs went on stage. These performers are phenomenal – there’s no debating it. Straight out of performing at the Grand Ole Opry and winning best in show, champions in the glee club world, Rock Bridge can boast a truly amazing musical team. But by the way we treated them, you’d never know it.

A show choir performance is not meant to be a typical sight, and for that reason, today they wore outrageous, sparkling dresses, and even the boys had caked-on layers of makeup. It’s necessary for performers to overdo it a little so everyone in the audience, regardless of proximity, can get the full effect. Instead of understanding this, students took to making fun of these musicians and actors, and taking pictures for Twitter. In a move so stereotypical it deserved to be in a 1980s John Hughes film, an RBHS student tweeted,  “Why would you take part in this,” captioning a blurry picture of City Lights’ performance. It garnered eight favorites and one retweet.

City Lights performs "Welcome to the Mad House" during the May 2 RBHS Assembly. Photo by Mikaela Acton.
City Lights performs “Welcome to the Mad House” during the May 2 RBHS Assembly. Photo by Mikaela Acton

But a better question is, why would you tweet that? Why would you make others feel bad about a performance and a group that is exceptional in what they do? The students who favorited the tweet should be equally ashamed. The internet is a place where it’s incredibly easy to be mean, but a trial to do the right thing. Because of this, at least eight students decided to encourage the bullying, and dozens more ignored it altogether, thinking it’s best to just stay out of it. By going along with it, we proved how gutless high school students can be when it comes to standing up for one another, and that for all the progressive, accepting traditions at RBHS, we haven’t learned anything at all.

At RBHS, we pride ourselves in our athletic and academic achievements, yet we ignore and ridicule those who step outside the box and shine in a more creative way. It’s unacceptable, and a disgraceful way to close 40 years of our school’s open and free traditions. Hopefully, we as a student body can learn from this, and show performers the respect they deserve. We need to take the plunge and cheer on our school’s artists. A standing ovation at every note isn’t expected, but showing some interest during and after shouldn’t be too hard.

Most importantly, we need to stand up for the kids who sing and drum and strum the guitar. They put their music on the line when they get on stage, or below it for that matter, so maybe we can risk a little popularity so that at our 45th or 50th anniversary, we’ll commend not only the kids with their 4.0s, and the all-state basketball champions, but also the piano soloist.
By Jilly Dos Santos
This is an editorial. For more information on editorials or commentary, click here.