Over 50 Alumni attended our Melave Malka at the home of Dr. Behzad & Yemina Souferzadeh.
As you hopefully know by now, I believe strongly in a student-centered or learner-centered model of education versus the more traditional teacher-centered model. If you are not sure what that is click here for a comparison. However, if there was ever a recent example of a student-centered learning environment at VTHS it would have been the 2015 Purim Chagiga. Let me explain and I hope we all learn from it. The party began on campus at 10pm. It was was wonderfully organized by Rabbi Semmel and the many students and staff who helped. Rabbi Samuels rocked the ivories and the students and staff danced the night away with full costumes, laughter and joyful energy. At the midpoint of the evening something became very clear. This entire night, while a celebration of the miracle of our escaping annihilation at the hands of Haman year ago, was focused on the student experience, as should everything at school. At around 11pm, our very own Junior, Mr. Yishai Anatian, or as he is affectionately known as “The Purim Rav”, took the mike and became the MC for the rest of the evenings festivities. These included a highly clever set of Gramin (funny purim poetry) made up by the students that Yishai performed, a skit put on by a couple of the Rebbeim making fun of themselves for the joy of the students and student produced purim videos that pretty much had me crying with laughter long past the evening ended. Throughout the creative student and staff displays, the response to it all by the students could only be described as deep pride in being a Valley Torah student and an even deeper understanding of what it means to celebrate Purim. The night came to a conclusion with awards for the best videos and costumes followed by a final dance and extremely happy students who experienced the simcha of Purim in the best possible place to learn it; their school. There was nothing about the evening that was not about the students and there was very little that was not produced and created by the students. As one 9th grader told me the next day, it was the best Purim he had ever had. I am convinced that was because it was a student-centered Purim and the more we shift our teaching focus on the individual learners the more it will be the best Purim, davening, science class, elective, english class, gemmar class and so on and so forth that they will remember and apply for years to come.
This is the latest segment of the weekly video series from Rabbi Stulberger – You’ve Been Called to the Dean’s Office. It’s a short (four minute) message on a timely Torah topic.
Everyone is invited to join us on Purim. See schedule below:
This past Motzei Shabbos, Valley Torah girls enjoyed a fun Pre-Purim Melava Malka Bash, which included such activities as face painting, mask decorating and creating flip books of themselves. Thank you to the Avrahamy Family for opening up their home to us!
Valley Torah girls are getting ready to put on their Annie Junior production. The actresses went to a few schools on Thursday to perform a couple of scenes. The audience loved it! We can’t wait to see you on March 15th!
On Thursday night, incoming Valley Torah girls had a blast jumping, flipping, and shooting hoops at Sky Zone Trampoline Park. They chatted with current students and enjoyed pizza and Dippin Dots ice cream.
“WE WON!” When I said that in the classroom on Wednesday morning, my students thought that now it is official – I really lost it. I know what the scoreboard said, and I know that the Wolfpack will definitely not take the CIF championship this year, but I still submit that our boys won the game.
When I left the house, giving some students a ride to the game, I told them not to count on me for a ride back, as I am probably leaving early – I didn’t think that we had a chance. I am not pessimistic, but considering that we lost against this same team by 30 or so points, and they have multiple players that stand north of 6″6, I was being a realist. But I was proven very wrong. Not only did I stay for the entire game, but I didn’t want to miss a play.
Our boys played so hard, and so well – it was amazing. They were tenacious and skilled, fighting for every opportunity. To me, it was a winning game.
Chazal, (Shabbos, 31a), gives us a heads-up that eventually we will have to answer a few questions; Were we honest in our business? Did we designate time for Torah? Did we await Moshiach? It is interesting that the last two questions don’t ask about what we accomplished, but rather what we strived to do. It doesn’t ask, “Did you become a Talmid Chacham?” Rather did you learn. Nor does it ask, “Did you bring the Moshiach?” Instead, did we desire his coming.
The focus of answers won’t be what we accomplished, but rather what we strove to accomplish, and for that we shall be rewarded. And, isn’t what we always tell our children? Don’t we preach that it is the effort that counts – I hope we do.
Society is about the bottom line – did you or didn’t you? If you didn’t win, then you lost. Effort can be appreciated, and intent is recognized, but the bottom line is the bottom line. This is not a Torah value. Indeed, the Torah values teach us that we don’t just recognize the intent and effort, but we honor and reward it as well.
So, to our dear students, members of the Wolfpack basketball team of 2015, walk with pride knowing that you won! Take this lesson with you in everything that you do, in your Torah learning and advancement, to any career choice you eventually make – strivers are winners!
In a similar vein, I couldn’t have been prouder of the school pride displayed by our student body. The energy and excitement was palpable and the overall good spirits made it enjoyable to be with them. The cheering was appropriate, and even religious as they broke into the Adar song, “Mi Shenichnas Adar…” I was inspired when they too were encouraging of their friends and their playing.
Finally, and far from least, as was duly impressed by the members of the team that came on time for shacharis the next day.
Indeed, WE WON!!
By Rabbi Daniel Grama