An Emotional Week

By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campusms-morning-meeting

It’s been quite the week emotionally across America and certainly on the Goshen Campus. At Monday’s Middle School Morning Meeting, I asked Social Studies teacher Michael Mahoney to talk to our students about our electoral process in advance of Election Day. He did a superb job explaining the difference between a republic and other types of less-inclusive governments around the world. One of the main points was that regardless of outcomes, all of us need to be grateful for and respect the process, and to conduct ourselves with civility when things don’t go “our way.” The students received the message well.

That message was sorely needed on Wednesday as many of us, students and teachers alike, were a bit groggy from a late election night, and a little shell-shocked at the turn of events, which polls had not predicted. As we said to the kids, no editorializing, or “picking sides” publicly, but there was a palpable edge in the building. Shelly Jones framed the outcome nicely at Morning Meeting (I was at the Downtown Campus where a similar Morning Meeting was occurring), including this famous quote from Abraham Lincoln:

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Framing this contentious election in advance, and afterwards, in such an even-handed, calm way was affirming for our students. I could tell parent visitors at our Morning Meetings liked what they were hearing. I have been proud of our students this week for comporting themselves very responsibly and not repeating party-line slogans. But, then again, this is not surprising considering our mission.

In an odd juxtaposition, our fall play, Anne Frank and Me, has been running all week too. The haunting story of Anne Frank and the Jewish populace in WWII has been a sobering countermeasure to the rancorous political process we’ve recently gone through. Adults and kids have been moved by the students’ performances, and we’ve all been very proud of how they have handled this material.

We added a new element to the fall play this year by adding an educational matinee during the school day. 40-plus 7th – 10th graders from Summit Academy came to St. Francis on Tuesday to see Anne Frank and Me, along with some other special guests. We were proud to share such a moving show with them, and they clearly enjoyed it. It was gratifying to pass this message of hope along to others, and our kids handled this unusual performance scenario wonderfully. To dovetail with President Lincoln’s quote above, I think it only fitting to close with Anne Frank’s most famous quote:

I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. Whoever is happy will make others happy too.”