This morning, we went to the Junior High Black and Gold Awards Ceremony at Oilfields High School. Jace was being recognized as a member of the Grade 7 Honour Roll and our chests puffed out as he crossed the stage. We cheered.
It’s a small high school, about 300 students from Grades 7 to 12. As I walked the halls, poking my head into classrooms, and as I watched the stream of people leaving the gym, I realized that I knew virtually no one. And they didn’t know me. What a strange feeling … to be noticed (probably due to the blue stitches in my head) but not to be seen as a person. And that’s okay. I watched the students and I watched the adults, and I wondered what their lives were like. It’s not important that I contribute to these particular lives. But then again maybe I did, just by silently sending them my goodwill.
Speaking of contribution, there were three breaks in the procession of young people across the stage. Student entertainers favoured us with their instruments, their dancing, and their voices. A young man stood in front of us and announced that he would be singing “Hallelujah”. A special version, he told us, smiling.
The first verse featured the foibles of the principal and vice-principal, ending with “But you don’t like teachers much, do ya?” We the audience roared.
Our singing jokester then moved on to a Math teacher, where clearly the kids had no trouble with the content: “Two plus two equals two ya.”
And how about the teacher who was rumoured to buy his shirts in a children’s clothing store: “You like showing off your muscles, don’t ya?”
The smiling fellow finished off his song by reflecting on the end of the school year. He raised his head in ecstasy and belted out the final chorus. I thought of Martin Luther King:
Free at last
Free at last
Thank God almighty we’re free at last!
We cheered madly
Thank you, Oilfields human beings