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Sometimes a song, a piece of artwork, a poem can speak to a truth in you and reset your mind and heart in a particular way. This week such a poem found me, and I would like to share it with you. Please enjoy “Kindness” by Naomi Shihab Nye below. 

Also, go outside. It is as good for your heart and mind as it is for your immune system. 

KINDNESS

Before you know what kindness really is

you must lose things, 

feel the future dissolve in a moment

like salt in a weakened broth. 

What you held in your hand, 

what you counted and carefully saved, 

all this must go so you know

how desolate the landscape can be

between the regions of kindness. 

How you ride and ride

thinking the bus will never stop, 

the passengers eating maize and chicken

will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness 

you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho

lies dead by the side of the road. 

You must see how this could be you, 

how he too was someone

who journeyed through the night with plans

and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside

you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. 

You must wake up with sorrow. 

You must speak to it till your voice 

catches the thread of all sorrows

and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore, 

only kindness that ties your shoes

and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread, 

only kindness that raises its head

from the crowd of the world to say

It is I you have been looking for, 

and then goes with you everywhere

like a shadow or a friend. 

Naomi Shihab Nye

Early in the morning on Wednesday, April 8, three weeks after we first moved the entire school to remote learning, we held our first remote (Zoom) student council meetings. As the High School Student Council advisor, I anticipated their agenda to include big topics like prom and spring showcase which, I believed, would incite difficult conversations with disappointing realities. I considered how I might console and encourage the students.  

When I reviewed the agenda, however, I saw something different. Don’t get me wrong, prom was a discussion item, yet it was framed as “ideas for virtual prom.” Amazingly, our students had already moved to problem-solving. What really caught my heart, however, were items like “ways to support the school” and “ways to support the community.” 

I found out later that similar discussions happened at the Elementary and Middle School Student Council meetings as well. Each group of students initiated plans to help those less fortunate and to support their schoolmates with individual handwritten notes and small gifts that would be sent home. Elementary Student Council members initiated collecting food for those less fortunate. The Middle School Student Council decided to look into the needs of local animals during this crisis. 

As early as April 10, each council had plans for reaching out to every student in the program they represent, and all three student councils were working together to plan a food drive to support the food insecure in our community. Since that time, the students have collected two rounds of food, as well as items needed for animals at the Humane Society. 

On Friday, the High School had a virtual prom. The officers of the HS Student Council sent each student individually curated and personalized invitations along with mini bundt cakes to be enjoyed remotely, but together, during prom. 

Helping others is an essential part of healthy development for children. Children develop compassion through acts of caring and kindness toward others; helping them to build competence and awareness of one’s relationship to others. It helps build self-efficacy in their role as a positive force in the world. Understanding one’s impact, helpful and not, is also a fundamental aspect of our school philosophy.

It is inspiring to witness our students reach beyond their personal disappointments to acknowledge how this crisis might be hurting others.

May 3, 2020
Jodi Grass, Head of School