Friday, April 22, 2011

Katya's "Let Your Star Shine" Presentation

Fourth grade graduation is a big deal in our school; you leave the elementary school and actually go to a different part of the city for middle school. Part of graduation is earning your "star," a plaque presented to you after you do our "Let Your Star Shine" presentation.

Students speak in front of the 3rd and 4th grades for about five minutes, talking about themselves. What matters to them? What kind of a person are you? What are your strengths? How have you grown while in the elementary school? What are your goals? What is your family like? Etc., etc. Then they can do some kind of a presentation, either showing a collection of their artwork, a video of them pursuing something they do outside of school (usually a sport), or a musical performance.

Katya started playing the guitar in January; since they she has written a few songs and set one to music. She sang and played that song for her presentation.

Afterwards, there's a rather long question and answer session when students and teachers can ask you pretty much anything. It's a good opportunity to develop confidence speaking in front of a group!

We were SO proud of Katya. She was extremely well-spoken and self-possessed... Her voice sounds much more childish than it usually is because she was so nervous, and her Russian wasn't quite as "you can't tell that I'm not Russian" as it usually is, but she did very well. She had the teachers (and me...) crying or darn near, proud not only of her Russian progress since first grade, but also of the young lady she has become.

Her presentation, and all of her teachers' and classmates' reactions, really highlighted what a great place this school has been for her. She has been so loved, nurtured and challenged.

We didn't help her at all; she made the powerpoint presentation by herself, decided what to say, and did the song on her own (with the help of her guitar teacher). Not all parents actually stay out of it, even though that's supposed to be whole point... (Developing confidence doing something independently...)

Since we didn't work with her on it, we were actually quite surprised by some things she said!!!

The highlights?
  • When she grows up, she wants to be either a country singer or the first woman President of the United States.
  • According to Katya, one of the reasons she loves Taylor Swift is that Taylor wasn't always so popular... When she was younger, kids used to tease her about her looks. She found comfort in writing songs and music, building up her self-confidence through artistic expression. Katya says that she is a wonderful role model for her.
  • Her teacher read a story that Katya wrote in third grade about looking beyond appearances and valuing people for their inner qualities. It was so lovely, and her teacher said that is truly how Katya is. I couldn't believe that she can write like that! It was so good! I'll do a post about that at a different time.
  • She had really nice things to say about all of us in the family—when we tend to hear the negative much more often at home... It meant a lot to Natalia to hear what Katya said...
  • She said that she considers everyone a friend, trusting them unless they give her reason not to...
  • Her favorite things? Taylor Swift, Shakespeare, Robert Frost, 39 Clues books, mysteries, music from Glee, singing, treats at Starbucks, monkeys, acting, playing the guitar, reading, and studying the American Revolution.
  • What does she like most about Russia? How there are so many historical places everywhere and there's always something new to learn.
  • When she grows up, she doesn't plan to take her kids to another country to live. When asked about this, it's not because she personally doesn't like the experience—but she thinks it's too hard on her grandparents and me.
  • She was also asked what she likes least about Russia, and she tactfully avoided answering, saying she couldn't quite think of the words... But when I asked her afterwards, having clearly noted that she had something in mind, she replied, "Well, dishonesty in the way things work. But then I realized I might offend someone if I said that because you never know..."
Oh, just realized, I did help with one part... I baked enough of her favorite chocolate chunk cookies to share with everyone in the audience afterward. There just wasn't time for her to do it all on her own... She brought in a few other things from home, including her autographed picture of Taylor Swift ("My mom really knows how to pick presents"—THANK YOU, Ebay!).

Below are the videos from the day. Everything is in Russian except for the second video which has her singing the song she wrote and performed on guitar. At the beginning of the fourth clip her teacher for the past four years asks her a question; we just love her and her voice... Katya will miss her terribly after this year!

Here's the "About Me" part of her presentation: (She picked the funniest picture of Chris on his birthday and it made everyone laugh!)

Here is the song she wrote (clearly inspired by the Taylor Swift music she loves):

Here are the clips from the Question & Answer Session:


Lois said...

Very impressive!

Rachael said...

Katya and I just watched together. It was fun for her to see. We have to get our girls together again, they've both grown so much since we saw each other last!

Rachael said...

And, it's funny to me that YOUR Katya speaks better Russian than MY Russian Katya. =)

Jojo, Julz, Julianne said...

And this is where I tell you how jelly-fish I am!!
It's funny though, in this video, your big and little galz resemble each other so much!
..I had to go back and think "is this the little one?"
I wonder if it felt natural for your daughter to speak in Russian or was she mentally translating as she spoke..Either way, AMAZING!!
And her song was fab. She really has some talent. Writing lyrics is one thing, but to write the music is really quite tough~
Best to you, and Happy Easter to your family!

Garnet said...

Wow! Very impressive. And what a great opportunity for her to develop all sorts of skills. My daughter is also a fourth-grader (just turned 10 and a half) and I'm sure she would never be that polished up front and she definitely wouldn't be singing or performing by herself, I don't believe. I'm curious about the school situation. I was under the impression that you taught in the high school section of her school and I understood that to mean you were at the same location which I thought was both great for you and her. Is this not the case, because you mentioned that they then go to another part of the city. Do they have the school separated into different parts?

Tina in CT said...


I am so impressed with the song you wrote, performed and the PowerPoint presentation you created & gave, your ease with which you spoke to the gathering at school and your composure. So mature for a 10 year old.

You look so much older than when you left of Aug. 24th. I miss my girl so much.

Thank you for your call today. Sorry I missed you. Hope you had a nice Easter.


Grandma Streusel