Monday, February 11, 2019

a crescendo on, and from, the stage


a play on paper is not alive,
just as blueprints are not a building,
anatomy sketches not a person,

actors learn lines, then blocking,
still it’s not real, more shadow than substance,

if the play’s a musical,
then songs start to flash of the animate,

I love it when we stumble through a first run,
for the whole takes a few breaths on its own,

costumes start to be added, then makeup,
appearance reinforces and reveals character,
individual parts start to stir with power,

the first rough dress rehearsal:

more and more is coming together
so that glitches, forgotten lines, 
missed entrances, breaks in character,
have even more power to negate
the positivity of the pulling together,

the wholeness, though, now has a power
that wills itself into being:
the show is coming into itself,
each character will shine forth
and each belief in self allows the belief in the other,
and a wholeness begins to break through on the stage,

the last dress rehearsal,
and over 95% of the show releases itself,
the meaning clearer and clearer
as the whole will not be denied,
my belief in student, in part, in the whole,
supported by what is before me,
mics are added so that voices have power
to reveal lines, songs, content,
props and set pieces are frames within which
story reaches down, reaches up, reaches out
to hold itself, and us,

then to our first audience,
young people whose imaginations ache to believe in wonder,

and all the parts click into a whole,
a new life takes its first steps,
and we are all  parents, lost in the toddler,
who will be herself,
who will be himself,
our second performance works so well
that my tears flow freely,
as what, as who I see on stage
throbs with the power each child has
if the way can but be found to release it,

I watch an individual and appreciate the group,
I watch the group and appreciate the individual,

I applaud, I cheer, I cry,
the play is alive, as are all the students, behind and on the stage,
who have found the way
for the inner lights to dazzle us all,

our first fully-intentional audience,
and I see them captivated, one with the show,

a spontaneous standing ovation at the end,

we are true to the emotion of the wonder
that has been before us,
the wonder that pulls us to our feet,
a greatness before us, with us, lives,
it deserves the celebration
that life should demand of the stasis,
the stasis that calls us away from risking
to be true to what we can be,
more see this show than any show in CFS history,
for now we have a spanking new Performing Arts Center
with room for over 300 in the audience,

the production crescendoes to an end,

I hope the success each won with individual and collective effort
will live within them and remind them to risk, to work, 
to see a city on a hill, and help to build it.

by Henry H. Walker
February, ‘19

Sunday, February 10, 2019

us and the arts

the arts

the arts can be denied,
when schools have to cut expenses,

academics are hard to deny,
for reading, writing, math, science,
social studies, languages,
shout of their value,
the kinesthetic, if expressed as sports,
opens purses, but expressed as art, as dance,
can be denied,

what seems true to me is
that a school’s most important task
is to help each young person learn to believe in self,
to hit the “on” switch that doubt and frustration can gum up,

this week near half of our middle school
are pulling off a musical in our new Performing Arts Center,
there is a wholeness, a life, that comes real on stage:
as actor, set designer, costumer, makeup artist, prop maker, all excel,
light and sound people, stage managers,
all together pull off what needs doing
so that each individual can shine bright
within a whole that shines bright,

the closest analogy to me is a team in sports,
where the collective, acting together,
somehow reveals individuality,
the sense of self as part of a larger whole,

the arts are one way to help empower the student,
we teachers, we advisors, work all the time
to do our best for the empowerment of the young person,
this week, the arts shout of how well
a full-scale musical can blaze of empowerment,

it is hard to sacrifice part of one’s own journey with kids
to enable another’s journey,
but of such is how a community does its best to stumble forward.

by Henry H. Walker
February 2, ‘19

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

"What did you last learn from a child?"

a child-centered school

The child is central.

a teacher for the early school is asked
“What did you last learn from a child?”
and she is hooked on Carolina Friends School,
other places that had talked to her
questioned credentials, history, titles,
she finds a home where the child is central,

a former CFS teacher speaks of his faith,
and the power of the practice here, the walk of the talk,
how the school embodies that of the spirit, makes it real,
for his own children, for the community,

a current CFS teacher,
a guy who “fixes it” with things and with kids
who need to express self through tools and wood,
appreciates what the school has done
for him, for his own children,
and now hopes to continue for his grandchildren,
that each will be seen and loved for who each is,
that the school will stay true to person and mission,

a former head of school
speaks of the vision of a Promised Land a school can have,
and the effort to create that school,
while holding no structure as set in stone, except,

“The child is central.”

by Henry H. Walker
January 29, ‘19