Last night we held our Celebration of Lights to mark the winter solstice. It is a ceremony where we invariably see the talents and beauty of our students as they offer music, dance, traditions and thoughts to our community. Last night Olivia Horton-Gregg, Jessica Scharf and Wenzhi Cai performed a Christmas Lullaby, Shutong Luo and Wenzhi Cai sang Susan’s Story in Chinese, Lizzy Takyi danced a piece of original choreography to Coldplay’s song, performed by the students in Advanced Music Lab. Adam Bloom reminded us of the symbolism in the Hanukkah traditions. Sydney De Tomaso, DJ Fowler, Dan Harrington performed I and Love and You, and Olivia Horton-Gregg, Charlotte Caron and Mo Zhou danced to music by Celtic Women, I Rise. There were other beautiful poems and songs as well. The school seems to swell at such times, the warmth and gladness and awe for the beauty within our students, in their work and craft, and in their openness in sharing a piece of their souls magnifies our hearts. We dwell for a moment in a shared space of light: it is the school’s answer to the longest night.
Last night this ceremony had a special resonance for those of us who have spent much of the past week mourning the loss of lives in Newtown, Connecticut. The travesty of that rampage happening at a school is nonetheless testimony to the power of school communities. As we learn of the wonderful place of learning Sandy Hook school was, and of the lives of lovely children who were growing there, the shock of this crime rips into all we hold dear. And yet, must it not also show that this is what the perpetrator and also victim of that crime could not allow, could not see: happy children learning in a supportive environment, anticipating holidays with family and friends?
Schools provide a center where young people can create beauty and meaning, can learn and dream, can connect and share. Schools are powerful places; they help us get through the dark times.