The Best School Events: Who We Are and Whom We Aspire To Be

Westminster's High School Chorale (

During Westminster’s Joint Choirs Spring Concert last Tuesday, there was a moment that embodied the two components of my favorite school events—a moment that represented not only who we are as a school but also whom we aspire to be. The tension between these two poles drives valuable learning and drives great schools.

At the end of the concert the Elementary School Choir sang the African spiritual, “Siyahamba.” Their voices were beautiful and joyful. The song has long been part of the Elementary School music curriculum, so as they repeated the lines, the Junior High and High School students, now facing the stage from the pews at the front of McCain Chapel, joined them. As I have mused over the lovely moment when the older students stood to sing, I have been thinking about the fact that each one of the younger students will likely remember this moment as they move through the music program at Westminster, and very likely for much longer, for in this moment they got a view of the students and the people they will one day become.

As I left the concert, I thought about how we should end the concert with “Siyahamba” each year from now on—the best traditions remind us of who we are and the whom we aspire to become.

On Friday our Glenn Institute for Philanthropy and Service Learning sponsored a Public Purpose Fair, an all-day event to inspire and equip students to make a better world. The Fair was held on last day of the High School and Junior High School’s Christian Emphasis Week and actively involved students and faculty in grades 3 through 12 in exploring the ways Westminster focuses on sustainability, health, compassion and reciprocity in our community, our country and the world.

Through interactive, multi-media learning assemblies, participants heard from faculty and students as they described courses and programs and shared their own personal stories of how they first stepped out to serve. The highlight of the day was when Fair attendees – all 1,852 of them – worked on two hands-on service projects. They participated in large-scale projects – from turning donated 55-gallon syrup drums from The Coca Cola Company into rain barrels to making fleece blankets for families in Atlanta and Guatemala. *[I adapted the previous two paragraphs from the Westminster/Glenn Institute webpage]

The Fair was a logistical wonder, and the story-telling and the work were valuable; however, what I enjoyed most and I believe will leave a lasting mark was the fact that older students were paired with younger ones in the shared path and work of the day. We need more opportunities like this…more chances for our most experienced students to play with and learn with those following behind them.  We are a stronger community, one better able to aspire to greater and greater heights when we create moments like the concert and the Public Purpose Fair.

One thought on “The Best School Events: Who We Are and Whom We Aspire To Be

  1. Milesmac March 19, 2012 / 7:20 am

    Such an important element of school climate and culture. Worth revisiting occasionally and keeping in the front of our minds as we engage outside of school and create programs within school. I sure believe that a strong core philosophy and shared values in a school with mentoring / PD for new people to the building creates a very powerful and vibrant community. Thanks for sharing your reflections!

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