After five years at Amidon-Bowen, with two more to go, I am confident that my three children have received a competitive advantage over other, equally bright children who may apply to Ivy League schools and other top universities 10 years from now. In their college applications, my children will be able to draw on how their experiences as racial and economic minorities at Amidon-Bowen have shaped their development and informed their world view. I do not believe that my children would be better off if they attended a suburban-like school where everyone looked like them and came from a similar socioeconomic status. Frankly, I do not think the admissions team at an Ivy League school is looking to admit bright but parochial children either. Children from suburban and other schools that lack racial and economic diversity are hindered by their common and average experiences.
My children are learning how to be leaders. They are learning how to be out front, how to be at the top of their class, how to compete for starting spots on sports teams. Having the competitive drive to remain at the top of the class takes a different set of learned skills versus having to learn how to overcome mediocrity. My children are learning how their differences provide an advantage, rather than hinder their trajectory. If they went to a suburban-like school where everyone looked the same and came from the same background, they might learn how to be content with being average. As most parents, I am hoping for my children to be better than average—I do not want them being comfortable with average—even if it is in an above-average setting. Elementary school is where confidence is built, trajectory is established, and children are free to experiment—to succeed and to fail. Our society needs more than average citizens and I believe Amidon-Bowen is laying the foundation to launch above-average citizens.
I am more than impressed with the academic rigor and offerings at Amidon-Bowen. My children are taught by great teachers who push them to learn beyond their grade levels in reading and math. My youngest child leads the entire school in math fluency as measured by the First in Math program, ranks third in the city for the third grade, and is 37th in the city for all grades (public, charter, and independent). He is trying to crack the top 100 nationwide. That is happening while he is a student at Amidon-Bowen. Two of my children are beyond the “Z” level in reading and my third is fast approaching the “Z” level. Compare that with your neighbor’s children. Amidon-Bowen’s GeoPlunge team (geography team) finished second in the winter GeoPlunge tournament, in which about 40 schools and several hundred children competed. This is against the same schools that have “better” test scores and fewer students receiving free and reduced meals.
Amidon-Bowen has the best competitive sports program in the city. The boys are the 2016 DCIAA indoor track and field champions and the girls are the 2016 indoor track and field runner-up (second place). I am astonished that Amidon-Bowen even offers track—much less indoor and outdoor teams. There are about 10 other boys’ and girls’ sports teams including cross-country, basketball, soccer, flag football, and even cheerleading. One of Amidon-Bowen’s advantages is the facilities—we have an artificial turf practice field, a full-size gymnasium, and a large grass athletic field. Another advantage is our school size. We have 350 students. There aren’t 650 kids all trying to use the gym at one time or play soccer during recess. Some schools regulate play space allocating 15 minutes per week at each “station.” That doesn’t show up in test scores. If only eight kids can play on the soccer team, or there are only five spots on the basketball team, how does anyone other than an exceptional athlete in a school with 650 children develop latent talent or learn how to be competitive? Children are defeated right out of the starting gate. When you were a child, did your elementary school offer any sports? Amidon-Bowen does and excels in sports.
As a parent, I don’t know what more I could expect or ask for. My kids are happy to go to Amidon-Bowen and my wife and I are happy they attend our neighborhood school. Our commute is simple and we are able to be involved in after-school activities.
By: Martin R. Welles, Esq.
President, Amidon-Bowen PTA