Celebrating the stranger

Yesterday I shared pictures from Friday morning, when St. Francis Coll held another assembly to celebrate our time with the classes during the week.  Before the celebration, we joined our classes from the day before; the students who had gone to the nursery tagged along with us.  I sat in with the sixth grade; unlike the other classes, when the bell rang for recess, they had to stay inside—apparently there had been more trouble between the boys and the girls.  The teacher again, reminded them that it was their choice; they could work for their future and the report cards at the end of the year would show this, or, they could waste time and just mess around.

The group of students that I sat with on Friday morning was a much less efficient crew than the previous day’s pod; there were two young boys, who didn’t really want to focus or be the taskmaster for any of the assignments and then there were three girls—one of whom was messing around with the boys.  The other two girls sat silently, just watching.  Some sort of mocking took place between the 2 boys/1 girl and one of the other girls, but I couldn’t quite follow what they were saying.

Finally, the bell rang for the assembly, and we all poured out of the classrooms into the courtyard. Kids lined the edges of the courtyard, and we left the middle of the courtyard open for all of the performers. The sixth grade girls had all huddled together against the back wall, and I didn’t see space with them, so I stood up against the column. And, then! The girls saw me standing, squeezed together, and made space for me. Maria moved faster than Juana, so I ended up with Maria on one side, and another girl next to me. Juana was several girls down. I had my Nikon D60, complete with my telephoto lens and the girls loved seeing the pictures show up as I shot stuff. We were nice and cozy, and I felt like a part of the group. Funny, isn’t it, how quickly junior high and belonging pop back up into everyday life?

I enjoyed watching the students from St. Francis Coll, but I think the biggest hit, hands down, was the high school students, who did their jump roping and lip-syncing routine.  They did their tricks in the ropes, and then went out and grabbed students from the audience to come and jump rope. The audience participation component definitely was the kicker that sold it to the students. The sixth graders, of course, were way too cool to get up and jump rope (and not nearly as cute as the little ones); this gave us the added advantage of watching all the kids who were up, and there was this one little boy who was so adorable as he danced—there was such life and energy, joy and emotion.

Here are some pictures from the celebration. More to come about it.

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