When we closed our physical space for the remainder of the spring term, one of the biggest complaints heard from our students was, "what about International Day?"
International Day is our annual end-of-year celebration with our whole school community. Everyone is invited to wear clothes that represent their cultural heritage, there's a parade around the block, parents host workshops related to their home countries, and it all ends with a pot luck lunch. That's when our school turns into the best restaurant in town!
Of course we couldn't celebrate International Day in the same way this year. But we did our best, through zoom gatherings and home videos. Children dressed up and shared their cultures -- cooking a favorite dish, dancing a traditional dance, showing crafts or flags. It was a beautiful reminder of the multicultural community we have, and how important it is to celebrate what makes each one of us unique as individuals, and stronger together.
Now school is out for summer and it's a mixed bag of feelings. Our head of school said this in her final message:
The last day of school is always bittersweet. We feel the promise of summer-- the deeper breath it allows for teachers, the unscheduled and open days it offers children, but there's real sadness as we say goodbye to children who have been in our care for the last nine months. Hopefully there are picnics and swimming and ice cream and grass in our toes before too long."
Then, she read a poem from one of her favorite poets:
One could say that this year's send off into summer is more bitter than sweet. We haven't seen each other in person in months, and our beloved founder and head of school, Shelley Borror Jackson, won't be back in the fall. Many tears have been shed. Summer will hopefully provide some time to breathe, regroup, and plan for reopening our school building. All the while staying connected to the important things that bind us all -- diversity, community, the global education of our children and the knowledge that they are our future.
Gracias, Xièxie, Thank You
Our faculty, staff, and students have never shied away from talking about our beautiful differences – our different skin colors, cultural backgrounds, languages, and family makeups. You can’t help young children grow into empathetic leaders without these discussions. And part of that celebration of our differences has to include honest conversations about racism, injustice, and what we can do to make changes in ourselves and a difference in the world.
We are all at a distance now, isolated in our homes, which only serves to heighten our feelings of helplessness and frustration. But the conversations have to continue, and as educators, we see the work we have to do. Some of our parents have shared excellent resources, including the "Talking About Race" portal for both educators and parents from the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
And now we approach our last few days of school. Normally this week, our Spanish Language students would perform in the annual musical, which is a celebration of art and culture, and of how our differences, when joined together, can make magic. Though it feels more important than ever, we won’t be able to have that performance this year. So, our Spanish teacher Srta. Sanchez read a book, La Asombrosa Graciela (Amazing Grace) by Mary Hoffman. It's about a girl who is told she can’t play Peter Pan in the school play because she’s black and a because she’s a girl. Of course, Grace proves everyone wrong. We’ve also read the original English version many times in our school. I encourage you to read it, or watch and listen to Srta. Sanchez’s reading of it, and recognize that each one of us, regardless of color, ethnicity, gender identity or age can be anything we want.
Let’s help our children grow up in a better world.