World’s just a stage for various talents

By JASON MAYFIELD/Guest Columnist

Quick question: How many cheerleaders have you ever known that moonlight as members of their school’s Scholar’s Bowl team?

The question isn’t meant as a knock against cheer squads. The same question could work just as well for members of the football and debate teams. It’s just that my eye-opening experience came with a cheerleader and my eighth-grade scholar’s bowl team.

A few years ago, a cheerleader approached me about trying out for scholar’s bowl. The request was slightly unusual in that there’s typically little turnover on a scholar’s bowl team. The same students that make the team in sixth grade are the same ones that try out and make the team in seventh grade, and those are the ones who are the ones that try out and make the team in eighth grade.

This student not only braved a tryout against peers that had been studying trivia for two years, but she earned a spot on that year’s team.

That fall, she practiced with us on Tuesdays until 5 p.m. before she changed into her uniform and went and cheered on the two basketball teams that night.

In January and February, she not only supported and encouraged the other four members of the team during tournament play, but she also earned a full third of our team’s points one round because she’d just recently read “Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

That cheerleader’s courage to believe in her diverse talents and her willingness to use those gifts even when they called her into two different groups of peers encouraged me to believe that we all have a responsibility to develop our gifts, even when those gifts don’t seem to connect on the surface.

As a teacher of gifted and talented students, I see students often force all their efforts into one area. Who’s to say the starting defensive lineman can’t write poetry? Why can’t the tuba player star in the school musical in spring?

We shouldn’t treat children as devoted, 24/7 professionals in athletic, academic or fine arts fields. Instead, we should encourage the people in our lives to try new things, activities that develop the talents that are just waiting to be presented next on the world’s stage.

Jason Mayfield is a gifted instructor at Columbiana Middle School.