Out of Tune

A bunch of stuff was out of tune Thursday.

During the Remembrance Day service the kindergartens, grade 1 and grade 2 shared. They shared K’Naan’s Wavin Flag. If you haven’t listened to it, do.

The kids rocked it. I mean really, really rocked it. My senior kids have begun to study performance poetry. Some of my grade 11/12 have been invited into elementary classes to share their passion for performance. So Thursday, when those little ones began rocking out, my kids got fired up. I got fired up. And I have to admit, I did absolutely nothing to quiet my kids. In fact, I joined in. I was joyful right alongside my kids. The south side of the gymnasium where the student body was seated was gleeful. The north side of the gymnasium where the community was seated was… not so much. When one of the grade 1, by memory, recited the lines Drake shares in the young artists’ version, almost every pair of Language Learning eyes from grade 9 to 12, turned and looked at me, and in unison mouthed, “Wow!”

It was a gutsy performance by an amazing group of young kids and their amazing teacher. The teacher is a person my kids know and respect. We are a rural school. We are one close, big family. When the song ended, my kids were on their feet, cheering and clapping. Actually, my kids and I were on our feet, cheering and clapping…

Things sort of went down-hill from there.

The event was not an assembly, but a service.

My students love performance poetry. They love giving voice to issues that need voice. So, with mic in hand, they continued to share pieces filled with meaning for the day and filled with meaning for today’s youth.

The room grew yet more distant, and we had not yet come to the Last Post.

When the trumpets played a child in the section reserved for community began to softly sing and to cry following along with the trumpet tune. I thought the sound, the addition, beautiful.  An adult tried to hush the child.

As we transitioned into a moment of silence, the child continued to sing softly. I think this was my favourite part of the service, certainly, the part that resonated.

I do remember. And so do my kids. And so too will the wee ones who, for the most part, spend each day at the other end of the school.

As my kids cleaned up the gymnasium, a few shared that some of their parents and a few members of the community were not entirely happy with our exuberance.

With the community making its way out the doors, my kids and I returned to our room. Then, a few kids zipped off down the hall to the store room to fetch an old piano. During transport, the piano left a rather large scuff in the wax the length of the hallway, joining until the winter-break-waxing, the elementary end with the high school end. An elementary student, flanked by community members, paused at the scuff and then looked at me.

“What are you going to do about it?”

Well, the piano is for our room, out of tune or not, but wanted. Yes, it is a rather old, dark grey-ish fading piano, but the kids chose it. The moment it was in our room, the kids pulled off a few boards so the piano’s insides became visible. Monday, we begin to graffiti piano’s shell. We do this because we’re a family. We do this to stay a family.  We do it with the Principal’s approval.

I just want to celebrate successes, you know. I get so caught up in the good. I never mean disrespect. This isn’t an apology, since I know in a heartbeat, I’d cheer again. I am just trying to envision remembrance in a space where silence and scuff and kids and cori are allowed room to sing.

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