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TAP is undergoing some changes

February 13, 2013
In TAP, we feel very firmly that 7th and 8th grade kids should be allowed to participate in more than one activity – there’s about a gazillion reasons for that philosophy, but we won’t get into that right now.  It’s a little different when you get to high school and scholarships and other things are on the line – but this is junior high, a time that kids should be exploring lots of different things that are available to them – not feeling pressured to pigeonhole themselves into just one activity.
Anyway, lots of the coaches and club sponsors from other activities agree – we’ve worked out arrangements with them.  However, there are a group of folks that disagree with our beliefs.  They feel that their sport is more important (regardless of what the student or their parents feel), and that a commitment to that sport should always come first.  They’ve decided that students who miss their practices for TAP will be punished with a loss of playing time.  It makes me sad when great kids are forced to choose between two activities that they love because adults are acting rigid and unreasonable.
Even when TAP wins the battle, and the kids are allowed to miss other activities to attend our meetings, the kids still lose, because they miss their other clubs/sports.
We know that being at volleyball practice is important, so is being at drama rehearsals, yearbook meetings, and every other activity.  There are a ton of reasons why kids involved in those activities should be at those practices/meetings.  As we’ve stated before, the meetings TAP has are very important for numerous reasons:
  • learn about the history of the country they’re visiting so that we’re prepared academically
  • learn about the specific things we’ll be seeing and doing, making it so that while we’re overseas we don’t have to focus on basics, instead we get to dig deeper and learn/experience more
  • learn about foreign currency, language, food, and customs so that we’re prepared socially
  • discuss behavior and safety in airports, hotels, out on tour, and on planes/boats/buses so that we’re prepared logistically
  • bond as a group working towards common goals
  • form a relationship with the TAP teachers who, for many of the students, will be the only adults they know on the trip – so that we’re prepared emotionally
So, all of this was a really long way of saying: We’re done fighting with the other coaches.  We want kids to be in multiple things, but we don’t think they should have to choose, nor should they be put in the middle of all this nonsense.  We’ve decided to make some sacrifices and concessions to ensure that TAP kids can be at all their other clubs/sports.  
We are very excited that the school has given us permission, after today’s meeting, to move the rest of our TAP meetings to Saturday mornings.  We will meet at MIS in Mr. Curtis’ room from 9am-12pm.  Instead of the 12 two hour meetings currently on our schedule, there will be 8 three hour meetings, and we’ve found a way to avoid all the Saturdays that have volleyball tournaments and most of the track meets. As far as we know, none of the school clubs ever meet on Saturdays, so those won’t be a conflict.  Also, school administration has assured us that since TAP is making big concessions for all the sports teams, ALLstudent athletes will be excused from Saturday sports practices so they can attend TAP (without any punishment).
The new schedule is as follows: (all meetings 9am-12pm)  2/23, 3/9, 4/6, 4/13, 4/20, 5/11, 5/25, and one last meeting between the end of school and our departure for England.
We ask that every England student attend at least 7 of these final 8 meetings.  We know that families have other plans on weekends, so we will be as accommodating as we can.  We know it’s impossible to make everyone happy, but we feel this is what will be best for the kids going forward – to ensure that they are able to go to their other activities and TAP meetings to prepare them for the trip of a lifetime.  After all, in the end, that’s what this is all about – the kids and what’s best for them.
These changes will also impact the 7th grade Poland/Germany group (and all future TAP groups).  7h graders will meet on 3/9, 4/13, and 5/11.  The 7th grade meetings will be from 11am to 1pm, overlapping the 8th grade meetings for an hour.  During that overlapping hour, we’ll discuss fundraising efforts and logistics like foreign money, airports, hotels, passports…
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