Friday, August 29, 2014

Still Side by Side



I shared a bit of our opening school ceremony in yesterday’s blog. I didn’t mention the staff xylophone band playing a hot Zimbabwe marimba piece while the kids and parents first entered the school grounds. I didn’t mention the Bulgarian bagpipe and drum that helped gather the kids by class in the courtyard (I know you’re picturing them running away from the sound!). I didn’t tell much about the two lines of teachers joined to make a human tunnel through which each grade passed while the teachers sang a sort of New Year’s song from the Bahamas. I didn’t mention the Head of School’s welcome address about building relationships and cleverly ending with the words “Side by Side” to segue into that old jazz standard.

After the song (and before the ringing of the gongs), I got to say a few words to the kids and parents that went something like this:

“ Do you know we have been singing that song at school for almost 40 years? The song itself is some 90 years old and was popular during the Depression, lifting up people’s spirits in hard times. This is the closest thing we have to an official school song. Now most school songs talk about how “our school is the best, we’re number one, we’re so much better than that one over here and the other over there and certainly that one around the corner and off we will march to victory holding the flag of our academic excellence and our championship football team. Rah! Rah ! Rah!”

But this song is a little different, isn’t it? I don’t think we’re the greatest school that ever was, but there are moments in every school year where we rise to greatness. When we work hard and master something that was difficult and have a great time doing it, that’s a worthy thing to celebrate. When we do the things that make us happy and that make this a happy place to come to, well, that’s a great thing. When we speak out courageously against an injustice, whether its defending our classmate who was teased or writing a letter telling the government to stop selling guns so easily, that’s definitely a moment to be proud of. When we’re kind to each other, when we’re kind to ourselves, when we’ve learned to love something or somebody that was hard for us to love, well, that’s a 21-drum salute!

But perhaps the most worthy is this feeling of community, this feeling that everything we work hard for and master is offered back to the community. And not just our tiny piece of paradise on Gaven Street, but to all the communities outside its gates. Something good starts here and ends up there.

Now here we are at the beginning of another year and we “don’t know what’s coming tomorrow,” there may be some “trouble and sorrow,” some bad weather, some falling skies, some ragged and funny moments, but we’ll get through it all together, singing, dancing, playing, working, imagining, thinking, loving together… how? You got it ‘Side by Side.’ After all these years, it’s still the song that gets us through the day.

Now let the wild rumpus begin!!”

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