Hallelujah

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!

He bowed
We cheered madly
Thank you, Oilfields human beings

Fifty Years After – Part 1

Cam and I went to visit Lawrence Park Collegiate Institute in Toronto yesterday … our high school.  I had dropped in once as an adult, probably twenty years ago, but that had been a very brief peek at what had been.  Yesterday was the full meal deal.

After parking, we could have gone in the main entrance or the one by the auditorium.  Since as a teenager I was never allowed enter the school by the main one, I decided that as an adult I would stay consistent.  Besides, I used to hang out by the auditorium, sitting on a low wall next to the lawn.  In 2015, a wheelchair ramp was right up against the wall, making it impossible to sit in my spot.  Sigh.

As we walked inside, I looked at the left wall in the foyer for the many plaques which had featured the names of Lawrence award winners over the decades.  I was especially looking for one certain plaque from 1967 which included “Bruce Kerr” in yellow calligraphy on dark brown wood.  But the wall was blank.  Double sigh.  “No!  They can’t have gotten rid of us.  It’s my history.”

Cam and I slouched down the hallway to the office, where we explained our ancient status and asked permission to look around.  The secretary was most obliging and gave us guest badges to wear around our necks.  Before leaving the office, I did what any normal person would have done – I sang Lawrence’s school song:

Give a cheer for the good old gold and blue
Our sons will be always strong and true
We’ll go in fighting and get a victory
Our foes we’ll soon subdue
For Lawrence is going out to win
We’ll fight through our foes through thick and thin
Give a cheer for the team that’s out to win that game
And make that cheer a victory cry
Let’s go – we won’t stop until it’s victory
For the gang at LPCI

Victory, victory is our cry
V-I-C-T-O-R-Y
Are we champions?  Well, I guess
Can we beat ’em?  Yes, yes, yes!

Two secretaries smiled big time.  They told me that most of those words had been scrapped a long time ago.  Politically incorrect, you know.  Guess it was hard to fit in “Our sons and daughters will be always strong and true”.  Plus “fighting”, “subdue” and “fight through our foes” were just a mite too violent.  So today’s kids don’t know the song.  Triple sigh.

So began three hours of exploring our youth in the halls and classrooms of Lawrence Park.  The best was yet to come.