Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fringe Benefits by Angie Ledbetter

I don't know what got me thinking about the idea of fringe. Maybe it's because in that all-important time of life -- high school -- I was never a certified member of any certain group. You know the ones I mean: the jocks, the artistic bohemians, the cool popular crowd, the super-brainy nerds...

Maybe it's because I'm involved with several groups at my kids' school, and realize that unlike most high schools, there is a place for everyone there, and that's part of the reason we chose that particular school for them. Besides the regular groups everyone squeezes and contorts themselves to fit into, there are lots of smaller organizations and sports where kids can belong. Whereas most people would see these as "fringe" groups, I see them as great little oasis of blessings for students who don't particularly want to just be another marble in an overcrowded jar.

Outside the Big 3 of sports (football, baseball and basketball), there are the "minors" like wrestling, volleyball, track and soccer. Then there are the even smaller groups most don't even think about, such as swimming, tennis, golf, bowling and fencing.

The same thing goes for the levels of popularity of extra curricular classes and fields of interest such as band, theater, service organizations, student government and literary clubs.

Getting to know some of the kids who populate these latter group rosters, I can tell you they are some of the most original thinkers. They are not afraid to be different. They don't see themselves as "lesser," and don't care if others do. They are, on the whole, achievers with a wide variety of interests and talents.

So, today I'm most grateful for these alternative activities to the Most Very Populars (MVP's), because they offer lots of benefits and a good bonding experience to exceptional, shy or well-rounded kids. I applaud these same groups in which adults find a place. And I only use the term fringe because they are the beautiful decoration around a broad swatch of fabric that might otherwise be bland. Fringers like me have always enjoyed hanging around the edges and having access to more than one group or type of people. Wouldn't the world be boring without them/us?

8 comments:

Parker said...

I wish there was a school like that in my area. I live in a small southern town where the high school MVP's are treated like local celebrities.

Barbara Quinn said...

Nicely put, Angie. There's room for all of us and our differences are what adds the spice to life.
:-)

Angie Ledbetter said...

Parker, we're in Baton Rouge. Come here and I'll introduce you around. :) (It's a small inner city parochial school, but there are kids of every single religion and description.) Thanks for stopping by.

Amen, Barbara. I'll never forget when I went to apply at the school, and asked the principal about the racial makeup of the population. He looked like he was sucking on lemons until I added that I did NOT want my kids going to a school that was not well balanced. :)

Anonymous said...

Angie,
From a coach of two of the "minor" sports at our school. All we do is wallpaper the gym with our State Championship banners, 12 in last 7 years. Two more coming next week. Our kids are the best and out parents are the tops in the world.
Oren

Angie Ledbetter said...

Yay, Oren, for manning one of the second tier sports teams. I know the kids love you!

Patresa Hartman said...

yay for fringe! it's like we are one big decorative western style rodeo vest -- and the fringe is the most interesting part.

what do small rural schools do, i wonder? i went to such a dynamic high school. big. so much opportunity. i wonder what it would have been like to go to a school that didn't have so many of those fringe activities. hmm...

Ami said...

I was a fringer (and I suppose still am), and I definitely found (find) it to be the best place. You can see so much more from the outside and the view is wonderful!

Kathryn Magendie said...

Fringe sways with the wind - nice and free and easy -:-)

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