Recent events on campus offer many reasons for gratitude
“Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone”
— Joni Mitchell
Driving home two weeks ago on Friday night, October 29, I felt suffused with gratitude. A day of Halloween festivities capped off by the 7/8th Grade play reminded us yet again how much we had missed since March 2020 and how good it felt to return to some form of normal. Even though all of the events contained some new COVID-related protocol, we held traditional celebrations in person which in of itself seemed huge after the past year and a half.
Greeting parents on campus to observe the Little and Lower School Halloween parades reaffirmed the importance of these gatherings to the Keystone community. The children’s excitement to march in their costumes was matched by the pride and joy of parents seeing them in person rather than via Zoom. The rest of the day included festivities in every division from games and partaking of shaved ice to the high school cake decorating and filmmaking competitions. Finally, seeing the Middle School play in the Theater rather than on a screen provided the coup de grace for an incredible day.
On Friday, November 5, the Upper School Student Council hosted the Annual Spaghetti lunch for students on the main campus. Watching students work all day to prepare and serve a lunch for their Lower, Middle, and Upper School schoolmates seemed good and right. A kindergartner pointed to the checkered tablecloths and the Upper School students waiting tables in their aprons and mustachioed facemasks and exclaimed, “this is like a real restaurant!”
Last Saturday night, November 6, Upper School Student Council hosted the first high school dance in almost two years. Yes, we were chilly since the dance had to be outside for COVID reasons, but watching students all dressed up in their finest clothes dancing, hanging out with one another, and enjoying each other’s company provided a picture long overdue.I doubt any of us thought back in 2019 at that year’s Fall Ball that we would not be able to be together in this way for such a long time. And while a dance may not seem like that big of a deal in the greater scheme of things, it offered a sense of stability in a time of turbulence.
As the world slowly finds its way back to a new and altered set of routines, we can take a moment to appreciate all we have missed and be grateful for their return. So often in life, we neglect the importance of seemingly little things until they disappear; it’s only in their absence that we acknowledge their meaning.
For that reason, we’re having discussions at Keystone on ways to recognize and demonstrate gratitude. Perhaps one reason to do so stems from one of our core values-ethical growth. Acknowledging those elements in life for which we are grateful is good practice and compels us to look for ways to help others.
In a November 2013 blog, Association for Curriculum and Development Digital Editor Sarah Mckibben writes, “Although gratitude may be an element of our family traditions or spiritual practices, emerging research points to gratitude as a potential bridge between students’ academic and social well-being. Studies show that grateful youth have higher GPAs; experience more positive emotions; and, ultimately, go on to live more meaningful lives. In addition, gratitude among middle school students can foster an increased sense of hope and trust in others and fuel a desire to give back to their community.”
You will hear more from us in the coming weeks on ways we plan to show thankfulness for the gifts we have received and to highlight gratitude during this holiday season.
Thinking of gratitude and appreciation brings to mind a time in the mid 1980’s when I backpacked my way through rural China and learned a vital lesson from a total stranger. After a week of rain-soaked days in the small town of Yangshuo, the sun had finally returned. As I made my way down the puddled road toward the next destination, a fellow traveller across the street smiled and proclaimed “Today is going to be the greatest day in the history of the world!” Just think how fulfilling our children’s world could be if we teach them to begin every morning with the possibility of the day that lies in front of them and go to bed every night grateful for what has been.