Valentine’s Day traditions offer important lessons
“Love is shown more in deeds than in words.”
– Saint Ignatius
As I learned in my first year here, Valentine’s Day at Keystone is kind of a big deal. Beginning months in advance, the Junior class, along with their advisors, plan a day filled with fun, frivolity, and fund-raising activities. Dressed to the nines, the members of the Class of 2023 madly rushed around all day delivering flowers, stuffed animals, balloons, stickers, various types of candy, and kisses (the receiver’s choice of candy or a sticker) to students and faculty/staff members.
Because the juniors also realize that one route to someone’s heart is through their stomach, they offer cheese pizza by the slice or the box. And of course, each year includes some kind of dance-gram. A couple of years ago, it was Fortnite. This year, four young men created a dance featuring the theme from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.
I’ve seen Valentine’s Day in a number of schools, and I have rarely witnessed the all-consuming activity that characterizes it at Keystone. While teachers and students attempt to make the day as normal as possible, the arrival of juniors to class to do a dance, sing a song, or make a delivery can be distracting; nonetheless, the work goes on with excellent teachers helping outstanding students. There’s a palpable excitement on both campuses, and at the end, the juniors can take great pride in all their hard work and effort.
In addition, there are valuable life lessons students learn over the course of the day. As Winston Churchill once said, “You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.” The younger children observe older students running themselves ragged not only to make money but also to bring smiles and a sense of joy to their schoolmates. We hear from the eleventh graders year after year of the satisfaction they derive from making other people happy. They have told us that the day transcends raising funds for a spring dance; it’s about working hard and seeing the smile on a youngster’s face when the junior enters the classroom.
Valentine’s Day also reminds everyone that hard work brings good results. For months on end, the juniors strategize, conjure plans, and exhaust themselves on the day itself. By the late afternoon, they are tired, but it’s a good fatigue borne of effort and success.
Perhaps Valentine’s Day 2022 stood out as the first “normal” one since the pandemic commenced. Like many other events and traditions we missed or altered last year, we modified Valentine’s Day to make it more virtual. Last year’s juniors created an excellent alternative, but it was a relief to return to an in-person celebration and continue the longstanding Keystone tradition.
Last year, the Class of 2021 created a new tradition that we are continuing this year. When the seniors were unable to have a prom, they donated the funds raised to the San Antonio Food Bank to support people in need. In that spirit, the school agreed going forward that the money raised by the juniors would go toward charities of their choice and the school would pay for their prom. It is our hope the students learn that they can accomplish great things when they set their minds to it, and they can have fun, bring joy to other Cobras, and help people in their community who are struggling.
Keystone’s core values of academic excellence, ethical growth, community involvement, and responsible leadership shine on Valentine’s Day. As we teach students, we nurture and celebrate their intelligence and talent; we help them understand that what truly makes them stand out is what they do with their gifts. Beyond the candy, the flowers, the pizza, the stuffed animals, and all the hoopla of Valentine’s Day, perhaps the longest lasting lesson comes from the deep seated satisfaction of serving others and bringing joy to their lives.