Sunday, January 31, 2021

Winter Wonderland Weather: A Gift From God

When I was nine, the license plate on our family car said: "Water-Winter Wonderland," and I was sure it had something to do with the song we sang at Christmas. My mom went along with it, but decades later I learned that the song was written some thirty years before the Michigan slogan was adopted. In fact, the lyricist was describing the city park in his home town of Honesdale, Pennsylvania. Nonetheless, to me, that song and my state were inseparable throughout my childhood. I must admit that I had forgotten that feeling since the Covid thing hit. That is... I'd forgotten until this past Thursday.

The week before this video was made was supposed to be Homecoming Week at school, a January tradition going back more than twenty years. Such events are part of the rhythms of school like holidays and the change of seasons, and when they don't happen, an inexplicable void gets everybody out of step. It's not just the fun that is needed, it's the marker in time. You see, Homecoming brings "spirit days" (where the kids dress according to fun themes like super-hero day, etc.). Then there's the big pep rally, lib synch and poster contests, the big game, "Fifth Quarter" Pizza Party for alumnni afterwards, and then the banquet on Saturday. None of that happened, however, due to the shut-down of sports, social distancing, and no banquet facility being available. Then the teams learned that their basketball seasons were delayed another month. School spirit was noticeably low. I'm glad we were having school in person at the building, because we were able to see just how sullen the high schoolers were (since Homecoming Week affects them most).

What do you do when you know your students need some wind in their sails? Well, in anticipation of these doldrums, we made made arrangements for an afternoon at the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex just 20 minutes away. We originally had it booked for Friday, but changed it to Thursday so we could have the entire place mostly to ourselves. That was important to our Covid cohort protocols. It was fantastic!

I cannot describe what happened to two bus loads of kids saw this Winter Wonderland! They began being risk takers who laughed at their mistakes. They defined the word PLAY. The three hours can be summed up in three words that applied everyone (including my wife and me). These three words brought hope in a time when we all need hope. I thought they might do the same for you:

"Being kids again!"

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