President's Blog: BSM Co-Curriculars and a Perspective Gained
Twenty years ago, as a young professional educator I found myself teaching in the classroom, serving as a mission trip advisor, a hockey coach and leader of the Youth-In-Government program at Benilde-St. Margaret’s. I was certainly eager to do whatever I could to push our students to learn while also fully integrating themselves into the BSM community. It was a wonderfully lively and challenging time as I learned the true demands of teaching, coaching and advising. It was during those first years that I began to see the tremendous value of co-curricular activities in the lives of our students illustrated by these short stories.
I was one of two BSM teachers that traveled with a small group of students to El Salvador with a Catholic ministry in mid-June. We traveled there to work with Salvadoran youth, learn about the country’s history while also immersing ourselves in the culture. We were all naively intent on making a significant difference in the lives of young Salvadorans, however, the reality was that we would be shaped far more by that experience. Throughout our time, poverty enveloped our encounters and yet in each Salvadoran we saw the simple joy attached to a deep faith in God. It was riveting to each of us! The conversations that followed among the participants, reflected a significant shift in our perspective. It was evident that this was a defining experience that would have a lasting impact, in a multitude of ways, on all of us, and it has.
A few years later, I was coaching our junior varsity hockey team at BSM consisting primarily of ninth and tenth grade boys. Rounding out the team were two juniors with sights set on cracking into the varsity lineup. My goal with each individual was to help these young men become better people and players. Our goal as a team was to put forth our best performance together each game in pursuit of excellence. As with each season, there were ups and downs, wins and losses, celebrations and disappointments. One year removed from that season, one of the juniors from that team tracked me down in the spring of his senior year. His message was simple, that season, on the JV hockey team, as he began to learn how to be a positive leader in challenging circumstances. It was a unique experience that has carried on in his professional life for the past decade.
Co-curriculars are a critical part of the BSM experience, and are directly called out in an important way in our mission statement. Virtually, all of our students participate at some level. They provide opportunities to learn that complement the classroom experience and help our young people explore interests, consequently developing passions. Students find themselves building relationships, leading and connecting with the broader community and gaining new perspectives. Of course, activities provide another venue for students to compete and showcase their very best. In the end, co-curriculars bring a powerful educational fullness to our young people at Benilde-St. Margaret’s.