By: Mr. Lu
I had a rebellion on my hands, and the students were outraged and indignant. We were having a special house captain meeting to plan this year’s Sports Day, and a group of almost twenty of us were gathered in the tent. Due to the pandemic, the typical year-end schedule and traditions were being upended. The new Sports Day date was scheduled for the day after exams ended, and would incorporate year-end assemblies for each grade.
The protests came quickly and furiously. “The best thing about sports day,” one person fumed, “is that you get to miss classes on that day.” Another added: “Who would come when there are no more classes? You could just hang out with your friends without the school.” Others chimed in with similar points, their mood ornery and feisty. And so, we talked. And good talking means good learning.
What is a school anyway? And who are we as a community? Throughout the year, I often hear frustration over marks. The pressure over, the obsession of, the emphasis on, the focus directed at grades supersede all else, it seems. School isn’t solely about marks, everyone agrees, and yet, here was everyone arguing against an event where no marks are involved at all. I didn’t understand the pushback against something that was (hurray, finally!) marks-free.
Every year, when I hear the prefect speeches, common themes emerge. The candidates speak of our warm community, of their affection for and enjoyment of the school, of the relationships and bonds formed with peers. Jake asked me recently to show Jack’s Jackets from a few years back. It was a term-end segment where Jack Carriere reminisced about school, and the slice of life montage punctuated the seamless sparkling span of learning, extracurricular activities, and everyday hallway banter.
I have this discussion all the time. Davis shared how relationships formed a core part of his student experiences, Maia laughed about some grade five hijinks, Betty talked about grads coming together over pizza while lounging on the hill, Annushka and Vincent remembered debate moments, and Kaitlyn spoke about how Planet Club soothed her. In one of my classes, we have circle time, where we share about meaty relationship issues, foibles, regrets, and insecurities. Call it what you want, but we all know it when we experience it – relationships, bonding, shared experiences, family. It’s the most basic, innate human desire for interaction.
Isn’t this who we are?
Sure, there’s a House Cup for spirit and competition, but deep down, it doesn’t really matter who wins. And yes, it’s weird and different, and you don’t hang out with these people outside of school. Yet, somehow, we’ve all found paths to the school. Call it chance, call it destiny, each one of us, at this time, at this place, right here, right now. Here we are, being who we are.
So, I’d like to issue a clarion call. Let’s come together for one day, in this year, of all years. Let’s put aside our schoolwork and our grade worries for a day. We’ll have summer for other friends and family. But for a single day, let’s rise above the relationship destroying pandemic, let’s learn about each other, let’s further strengthen our strong bonds, and let’s celebrate – knowing we have each other.