The Emotions of Youth

Two events this past week reminded me of the often-raw nature of student expression. Emotions bottled up seemed to often find their way to the surface and spill into the hallways and various events that are part of the AAS smorgasbord.

On Monday last, our IB Drama students took to a small stage to put on 24-hour theater. These original works brought some very difficult language and emotions to a mixed audience. We laughed, we cringed, and we saw some deep wounds exposed for all – a connection to difficult issues in our world. There were poignant message of the horrors of abuse, power, corruption, and related themes. Their hearts and souls were in these short pieces and the underlying theme was obvious with emotions sharp and like daggers thrown in the dark. From the technical standpoint, it was amazing to see what emerges in 24 hours – costuming, lights, staging – everything well done! The Malyy Theater was the perfect venue for this intimate expression of something so personal and intense.

On Friday last, our “Middlers” entered their first evening social at about 5:00 p.m. A large crowd turned out for dancing, games, movies, food, and friendship. As a father, I signed up as chaperone for the night to give me a chance at connecting with my son, his new friends, and everyone else in attendance. It’s always amazing to see the range of this group of kids and reflect on the growth that emerges in these often dynamic and challenging years. Equal to the range of height was the range of emotions on display. The energy on the dance floor in the Malyy was almost overwhelming at times. We had constructed a multi-tiered dance floor and the room was filled throughout the night. The tunes belted out lyrics with intense emotional themes and resonated with the crowd as they mimicked the words while dancing alone, as couples, and in groups. The dynamics were like a complex nuclear reaction where one particle hits another building the energy exponentially to a fevered pitch of movement, color, and sound moving in waves around the room. And then the music slowed, the room emptied a bit, and a brave few remained for a subdued dance at slower pace, some as couples and others comfortably swaying on their own to the flowing cadence. Friendships were made and broken that night. There was both laughter and tears. One past student from AAS even attended the event virtually from South Korea via Skype on a student’s computer.

Tina Quick was here talking to us about the emotions of youth and how vibrant and unpredictable they are. It’s fabulous that we have an environment at AAS where occasional open expression is valued and encouraged. Some might react to a dance or a play as a moment of supervisory weakness. Not us. We see it as an important part of becoming – an important part of childhood.

Tina had some valuable messages for us on emotion and transition. If you missed it, watch below a video reminder of her important lessons. Listen for the themes of how the emotions of youth guide our understanding.

Parents – Listen to your kids and tune in to their emotions – often raw and unrestricted. They are learning!

Students – Bring your emotions to the surface and learn from them. Be honest with yourself and others. This is the time to learn about what you can teach yourself.