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Archive for December, 2012

Light a Candle for Peace

December 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Evergreen School CandleIf there is any meaning to be found in the Sandy Hook tragedy, it was best expressed in the words of President Obama on Sunday: “This is our first task – caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right.”  If you have not read the speech, please do here. As we mourn for lives lost in Sandy Hook, let us draw strength from our community, knowing that together we will continue doing right for our children– providing the love, hope, comfort, learning, freedom, guidance and security they need to grow straight and strong.

On Friday, our entire school family will come together for our Winter Festival.  At the closing, we will sing Light A Candle For Peace by Shelley Murley. Please sing with us.

Light a candle for peace,
Light a candle for love,
Light a candle that shines all the way around the world.
Light a candle for me,
Light a candle for you,
That our wish for world peace
Will one day come true.
Sing peace around the world.
Sing peace around the world.
Sing peace around the world.
Sing peace around the world.

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We Love Penguins

December 14, 2012 Leave a comment
Evergreen School Penguins

Evergreen School Penguins

Every once and a while, a classroom project stands out– like an army of penguins.  What is it that makes them so endearing?  They are so anthropromorphised, of course.  These funny little creatures remind me of the time my son insistent on adopting a penguin through the World Wildlife Fund for Christmas.

But Santa is from the North Pole. Not Antarctica.

Seeing the Future

December 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Evergreen School Thousand RollOf all the technological breakthroughs in the modern world, the invention I’d like most is a device that would let Evergreen parents see into their children’s future.  You know, it is hardly possible for a mother to imagine her young child as a high schooler, let alone as an adult or a parent.

Yet, often I think our Evergreen teachers are able to look into the future.  They can see how today’s foundation in learning, working with others, developing responsibility and independence, caring for others, and respecting differences can shape a child’s life.

Teachers see the long trajectory of life.  The passion a student brings to the hundred board, the bow frame, music class, or the map of South America is carried with him or her forever.  A lifetime of learning, growing, caring, and loving is nurtured here.

This morning, I watched a student in Mrs. John’s class unfurl his One Thousand Roll.  Over the course of many days, Lazarus had created one continuous strip of paper with each number from one to a thousand.  As the roll stretched 40 feet down the hall, I could see the pride in his eyes.   And I realized that behind those eyes is a greater sense of confidence and competence. The lesson he learned: that success comes from perseverance — “I can do it.”

Evergreen is making a difference in the lives of students like Lazarus as it has done for the past generations of students that came before him.  And if I had a “future-seeing” device I’d see the next generation of Evergreen students.  I would see how our decisions and actions today will secure the school’s future for tomorrow’s children.

Everything grows, like Raffi sings.  It is a blessing to be part of the process.

Santa from a School’s Perspective

December 3, 2012 Leave a comment

Evergreen School SantaThe best holidays give grown ups permission to feel young and see the world with child-like wonder.  Lourdes Barden-Sims forwarded this poignant story about her daughter written by the writer and motivational speaker Robert Rabbin. We are a school community of many religious traditions. Rabbin’s message seems just right for our students.

Believing in Santa, by Robert Rabbin

I recently received a phone call from one of my friends, Nourah, who wanted my advice on a matter of some importance and urgency. Nourah lives in Maryland with her mom, stepdad, dog, and chickens. Nourah has a burgeoning eggs-for-sale business, and she is an avid bowler and chef, as well as being an incredibly gifted public speaker. Nourah is seven years old.

The issue she wanted to discuss was this: she believes in Santa Claus, but some of her friends at school do not. What to do?

Hmmmmm, this was a tough one, to be sure. I asked Nourah if she liked these other kids, and she said yes. I asked her if she wanted to keep them as her friends, so as to continue to enjoy playing together. She said yes.

I asked her if she thought she could change the minds of her friends; that is, did Nourah think she could get her friends to believe in Santa. She said no.

I asked Nourah if her friends could change her mind; that is, could her friends get her to stop believing in Santa. She said no.

So far, so good.

I then asked Nourah if their respective beliefs got in the way of their friendship. She said no. I then proposed that there was no issue to be resolved, as long as no one tried to change the mind of those who held different beliefs. That, it seems to me, is key. If none of the kids tried to change the beliefs of the other kids, or used their beliefs to discriminate against or hurt others who held different beliefs — then all is well. Everyone could believe in what they wanted, and they could all continue to be friends and play together.

I suggested to Nourah that believing in Santa and not believing in Santa were really the same thing, with the “belief” being the unifying factor. That is, we find common ground in the fact that we each “believe.” As long as we don’t use our beliefs to separate us from others, or to hurt or harm others, or to shame or embarrass others — then all is well. With this perspective, our beliefs become our own mental toys: we can play with them or discard them at will. They are for our own amusement. We can hold these beliefs lightly. We don’t need to be right, and make others wrong. We can just believe in what we believe in, and let others do the same. Then, without needing to be right and holding our beliefs lightly, we can stay connected with our friends.

I confided in her that not only do I believe in Santa, but I believe in his wife, Mrs. Santa Claus. I also believe in the Easter Bunny. I also believe in Paul Bunyon, a very huge and tall mountain man who rides on a bull as big as Kentucky. I told her that I believe redwood trees sing and dance when no one is watching, and that whales can walk on land. Finally, and this almost put us both over the edge, I told her I believe I am a world-famous ballroom dancing champion. I told her none of my friends believe in any of these things but we are still friends and I sometimes play with them.

Nourah seemed quite happy and content with our conversation. She even told her mom that I was funny. I can’t think of a better endorsement from a seven-year-old.

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