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Weekly Letter 12.22.16
We begin with thank yous. Thank you to our phenomenal Jazz Dads,* who performed for us on Monday morning. Thanks too to Jonathan and José for once again leading us in song this afternoon. When we come together to sing and listen to music, we all feel good! Many thanks as well to Shalisha Jackson, our AfterSchool Director, for organizing the Missing Pages Musical Theater Program.
The free musical theater class was taught by José every Tuesday and Thursdayafternoon. We got to see the results of this work on Tuesday, with the class putting on a show during the school day and then sharing their work with others in the evening.
The event that night was entitled Black History is American History: a Celebration of Resilience. The program opened with three of our fourth graders: Anya, Skai and Solomon S. singing Backwater Blues. Fifth grader, Zena, then led us in the singing ofLift Every Voice and Sing. The Missing Pages Ensemble performed poems such as Langston Hughes’ The Merry Go Round. One of our alums, Nyla, a student at BCS, also wowed us with a poem that she had written.
Interspersed throughout were the words and music of adults including Nile’s dad, Jay, playing I Wanna Be Ready, and José with Camilo’s dad, Urbano, drumming. The gospel songs sung by Zahara’s mom, Rashida, and our school social worker, Joseph, brought the audience to cheers and tears.
We heard many a personal story, with Rhoc’s mom, Ayaba, talking about the wisdom of her uncle, a man who died at 112 years of age and who therefore became a human window into history. First grade teacher, Jenny’s story of her mom, Mary Hinkson, the first African American dancer for the Martha Graham Dance Company, was made all the more compelling by the projected image of Mary dancing. Second grade teacher, Greta, spoke about her grandmother, the mother of Mickey Schwerner, a freedom rider who along with his co-workers, Ben Chaney and Andrew Goodman, was murdered for working to register African-American voters in Mississippi. These stories grounded us in this very real celebration of resilience.
In the upcoming weeks and months, as our country says goodbye to another person with an important story, Barack Obama, the first African American president, we have to work hard to hold onto these stories and to remember the power of verse and song.
We are a school, which owes its very existence to Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruling from more than sixty years ago. As a community, we come together around issues of justice and and race and class, knowing that empathy and kindness is at the heart of our mission.
As we say goodbye to 2016 and usher in a new year, let’s remind ourselves to keep telling those stories of resilience, because in the years to come, it is resilience that will keep us strong, resilience and our knowledge of each other’s stories.
Enjoy the holiday,
*Jazz Dads (and one Mom): Sylas’ mom, Cheryl Richards, Nile’s dad, Jay Rodriguez, Hannah’s dad, David Smith, Gemma’s dad, Sam Hoyt, Ezra and Michael’s dad, Sean Moran, Cedar and Max’s dad, Andrew Drury, Guillem and Biel’s dad, Alexis Cuadrado plus Camilo and Xiomara’s dad, Urbano, Elsa and Jeremy’s dad, Jonathan, and Joaquín and Johnny’s dad, José.
Quote of the Week:
Steve and Katherine’s third grade class was using a variety of instruments in music class. When Tamara Williams asked what one of the instruments was called, Jonathan responded, “The African Clave.” On hearing this, Otto English asked, “Where in Africa is it from?” Here is clear evidence of the Africa study’s impact!