Of That

Brandt Redd on Education, Technology, Energy, and Trust

01 October 2010

Meridian School Legacy

The message on Meridian School's website is simple and to the point: "It is with deep regret ... that after 21 years, the Board of Trustees has decided to close the school."

Only last fall we celebrated the school's 20th anniversary with a Gala celebration and an expectation of many more years to come. Unfortunately, Meridian is another victim of the recession.

Many Meridian students have transferred to charter schools, others to the regular public schools. Most are happy and I expect that all will do well.

This post is to celebrate some of the things that made Meridian unique. The legacy remains in the hearts of hundreds of students, parents, teachers, staff and friends of the school.

Emotional Security
One year I served as chaperon when Meridian competed in the Utah Shakespearean Festival. Unlike larger schools that selected their best drama students, Meridian closed classes and took nearly the entire upper and middle schools. As I watched the kids perform monologues, dialogs, a dance number and two ensembles I was struck by their confidence on the stage and how much they were enjoying themselves.

Another parent and I pondered what might be the source of such stage confidence. We agreed that it was the safety these students felt among their peers. At an age when most kids are exposed to ridicule and bullying and struggle to find a place to belong, Meridian students welcomed new friends, encouraged each other to try new things and celebrated a variety of backgrounds, religions, languages and races. This welcome culture permeated the student body, faculty and staff.

Individualized Learning
Much of my work in education technology has been finding ways to customize the learning experience to meet individual needs. Meridian managed to do this with small classes and teachers who cared enough to adapt classes and offer individual assistance. Students would immerse themselves in subjects with language plays, historical banquets, period dance and may other fantastic activities.

Diverse Cultural Experiences
Meridian reached well beyond Utah Vally to expose students to other cultures. Full-time international students came from Korea, Japan, Europe and South America. Sister schools were chosen in Germany and Japan with biannual exchange trips in both directions. Students and faculty demonstrated understanding and respect for different religions, political beliefs and national background. International week and the language fair furthered this respect and students grew up knowing that their best friends could have very different beliefs from their own.

Breadth of Experience
At Meridian you didn't have to choose between sports, drama, music and language. Everyone did it all. The sports teams were open to anyone committed to making practice. The spring musical had to be scheduled around the basketball schedule because most of the cast was also on the team. When the seniors on the 2010 basketball team were honored it was disclosed that all were also taking AP Calculus! At Meridian we believed that high school was too soon to specialize.

Other things I'll miss:

  • Writing Rally
  • Broadway Rocks
  • Fear Factor
  • Extreme Theatre
  • Language Skits
  • Christmas Vespers
  • Medieval Banquet
  • German Exchange
  • Kindergarten Buddies
  • Mongoose Mornings (with Minton)
  • Quantum Leap and the Black Hole Cafe
  • Random students running up to me and saying, "I won the game!"
  • At the game: "Presenting... the Meridian Mongoo.. Mongeese... Mongooses... whatevertheyare!"
Goodbye Meridian. Farewell my friends!

1 comment:

  1. Having gone to Meridian since the age of four, I was used to the fantastic environment that I learned in. I thought it was normal to be in Basketball, Soccer, Drama, and whatever else happened to be going on. Now that I am at another school I realize just how amazing Meridian was and I miss it a lot. But now at my new school my old friends at meridian have already made a name for themselves being at the top of the class and being friends with anyone. I see the meridian legacy live on in my friends and in myself.