Little Things…

edicts_1 By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

As we head off to a well-deserved Thanksgiving vacation, “little things” around here remind me of why we are all thankful to be a part of the St. Francis community.

First, some unique signs have been popping up in our hallways. I didn’t give them too much thought at first, but then I found out their mysterious origin one day at Morning Meeting. From Shelly Jones:

“6th graders, in studying Buddhism and the First Unification of India, learned about an early emperor named Ashoka. Ashoka helped spread Buddhism throughout the Indian subcontinent through ancient billboards of sorts, creating pillars with messages about values like kindness, respect for all living things, justice, and the Buddhist concept of dharma. These writings, called edicts, were posted on pillars or inscribed on rocks and caves. They helped unify the people in this time period. In the spirit of Ashoka’s edicts, 6th grade students created posters with edicts connecting to our school’s core values and posted them throughout the school.”

Aha! Enlightened, I went in search of edicts one afternoon this week. Here are some I found:

“Think before you speak.” (I’m sure we all wish we’d obeyed this one at some point in our lives!)

edicts_2“To live life, you must see the beauty in all living things.”

“Questions are the key to life.”

“Only get what you can eat.” (Outside the lunchroom)

“Accept people for who they are…”

“Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.”

“To the world you may be one person, but to one person, you may be the world.”

What I appreciate most about these is not necessarily the “weight” of the saying, but rather that our 6th graders are spending time crafting them, thinking about them, and studying ancient Buddhism and looking for tie-ins to their own life and our School. It’s the sort of “little thing” we take for granted around here.

Second, also from Morning Meeting (one of my favorite things about St. Francis), we were treated to a short presentation from Anne Holmes’ humanities class about the origins of the swastika symbol. It was featured in the recent fall play, Anne Frank and Me, and no doubt caused a stir among some students. The humanities class investigated its origins and informed us through pictures that the swastika originally was a positive symbol in the Hindu religion that stood for “good fortune”. It only became associated as an “evil” representation of the Nazi regime later. Again, the notion of our students studying things as they come up in our school and explaining it to the larger community is so St. Francis.

And finally, at our very successful Open House this past Tuesday, it was refreshing to see the looks on prospective parents’ faces when they toured our school. We have a tendency to take for granted our open spaces and how free and confident our kids are in speaking with adults. They were marveling at what we consider “little things”.

So as we won’t have a newsletter next week, I hope you and your family enjoy our Grandparents’ Day performances and all the joy they bring, and the time you get to spend with each other celebrating family traditions. For these are the “little things” that make life so special.