Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Last Thursday was Fine Arts Night at John Strange Elementary School. We visited Jake’s second-grade classroom first, where we read his first published book—poems! Illustrated by Jake himself, with a nifty author’s bio. Then on to Heidi’s third-grade room, where we read Heidi’s second published book, a fabulously illustrated alphabet book.
I love it that the kids write books at John Strange. I love the school itself, with its corridors full of children’s artwork and its friendly principal who actually stands outside to greet the children every morning. It feels happy there, the way I think a school should feel.
But what I love most at the moment is the new music teacher, who put together a production of “Where the Wild Things Are” that was, without doubt, the high point of all school productions. Ever.
To tell the truth, we were feeling a little grumpy. We didn’t know there was a program after the open house part of the evening. We were hungry, we didn’t want to wait a half hour for it to start. We wouldn’t have stayed, except for the fact that the second graders were the ones performing—and Jake is in the second grade.
So we’re sitting, waiting. There’s the usual shuffling behind the curtain, they’re running late, the principal is scurrying around, looking anxious. Finally, a kid comes out with a copy of Where the Wild Things Are, sits down on a chair at the edge of the stage, and opens it.
Then curtain comes up and maybe 75 second-graders on risers, wearing these monster costumes made of paper bags with string hanging on them, like fur, are suddenly singing along with the music blasting into the auditorium. That old 60’s song—
You make my heart sing,
You make everything
Oh. My. God. It was hilarious.
Talk about groovy! They were doing dance moves (more or less) in unison. Every single kid was totally into it. The audience was hooting with laughter and delight.
I was sublimely happy. I loved watching kids engaged, really engaged, in the arts.
Yes! This was the arts. This was school, as it should be
Plus, I was having one of those weird what-is-time-anyway moments in which I was dancing to that absurd song at fraternity parties when I was in college and watching my grandchild (grandchild!) dance to it now.
Whatever now is.
“Born to Be Wild” followed, shortly thereafter (featuring sunglasses).
And I think everyone in the audience felt a little wild with them. The applause was wild, at the end. That’s for sure. There was a standing ovation.
The kids on the risers grinning that embarrassed grin kids grin when they know they’ve done something cool and right and they're really, really happy with themselves.
It makes me grin myself every time I think of it!