Fourteen adult synchronized skaters moved backwards across the ice, connected shoulder-to-shoulder in two parallel lines of seven, completing a complicated footwork pattern in perfect synchronization. Of these skaters, whose bodies, blades, heads, arms, and legs moved together in unison, I was solidly placed second-from-the-end of the front line. Our group swooped hard to the left, paused, and swooped back to the right. I ran the steps through my head as I completed them: Step-cross-forward step; outside mohawk; and a hard push backward to merge our two lines into one long connected line.
We were only two components and 30 seconds from the end of our program… but something was terribly wrong. As we flew into the next element – pivoting our full line of 14 bodies over the ice surface, much like the arm of a clock around its center point – my mind ran in slow motion. I was in the wrong position within this line! When merging the two lines just seconds earlier, somehow I ended up sliding into the wrong spot.
As somewhat of an ice skating competition novice, I’m still not fully comfortable with those moments when you have to go with it and adjust for unplanned mishaps. Thankfully, my 17-year-old veteran teammate Abby was next to me, recognized the situation, and took charge. Behind her “performance smile,” she quietly commanded: “Don’t freak out! You’ve got this – it’s going to be OK. You’re going to be the center of the wheel now, so just remember the different arm position.” My 30-something-self gladly took her lead (performance smile on my face, too), and we completed the program with no one knowing any different. In fact, it was such a solid performance, our team won the competition and left Boston with gold medals around our necks.
This experience got me thinking about the remarkable power of connection — much like Harrisburg Academy’s intentional effort to establish connections between student, teacher, and parent. Everything my team does on the ice is contingent on how we connect, disconnect, navigate around each other, and re-connect. But our ability to communicate with each other while navigating the ins, outs, backs, and forths, seamlessly and synchronized, is where our true success lies.
It’s the same for the connections we seek to establish at the Academy. By each of us playing a role in building partnerships based on communication, expectation, support, and honest, respectful feedback, each student will thrive. And for those times when your student might not be thriving, we’ll be here, right alongside you, to help him (or her) adjust and find his way back to a confident, gold-medal finish.
Learn more about Harrisburg Academy on our school website.