Friday, December 20, 2013

Home to Ithaca

After the closing singing time described in the last posting, all the staff went to the raucous and spirited White Elephant gathering. Great fun, but near the end, it became clear that some of the Interns had to leave. We rushed outside for a final photo back where we took the opening photo four months ago at the Opening Ceremony of school. The arc between the two ceremonies struck me. It began with the beckoning invitation of the kids (and Interns) first arriving at school, all possibility, promise, potential. Four months later, we stood in the same spot, with over 500 clasees behind us, scores of songs, dances and instrumental pieces learned, the ritual markers of Halloween and the Body Music Festival and the World Music Festival and the Holiday plays and the Middle School St. George echoing in our memory. The characters of the children revealed, the little breakthroughs and astounding moments, the character of the teachers and the whole of school culture witnessed and lived. Not to mention the wonders of San Francisco—Vertigo at the Castro Theater, Halloween on Belvedere St., the Sea Chantey Sing on the Balclutha, the Grace Cathedral labyrinth and view from the Crown Room at the Fairmount Hotel. The Interns moving from observers to participants to teachers and the marks that they left on the school, the children and each other. How much life we lived together in those short four months!

So there we were again, in the same spot where we took an opening photo, taking another one behind the Odyssey cardboard boat. It was too rushed for me to find the right words for our final hug. But they came just as I was leaving school. Something like this:

“Alice, Andrea, Banu, Celia, Christine and Lisa. We have been on an Odyssey together and the boat has come home to Ithaca. We survived our Cyclops, Sirens, Scylla, Charybidis, Circe, Apollo and Calypso moments and they were mild in the big picture. For most of the days, the sea was calm, the breeze balmy, the wine fine—very fine!—and the golden fruit of the children’s genius ripe for the tasting. We wove our garments, unwove the parts that didn’t work and re-wove them again. You were the first six to take this journey with us and we—Sofia, James and I— will hold you forever in our hearts. You have witnessed the risk and the planning, the surprising moments that revealed the children blossoming and the surprising moments that trampled the delicate flower of the class, you’ve seen the quick inspiration of the moment and the carefully unrolled unfolding of a class unit. You’ve seen us “in the zone” and “ out of sorts,” beheld us as confident captains of the ship and helpless sailors blown about by the wind. You’ve put your hands on the oar and risen to your own commanding possibilities. It has been a voyage of a lifetime and Ithaca was with us every moment of true sincerity, humor and creative gusto. May you be forever united with Penelope as you return to your homelands. Bon voyage!”


  1. Beautifully written Doug:-) Thank you!

  2. And I echo Andrea, beautifully written. Many thanks for it all.


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