Warmth in words and actions
Today’s Glen Ellen news is all about kids – their promotions, their awards and their summer plans. But as you read about all of these Glen Ellen stars, look around and find your own examples of stellar children in your own community, at your own local school.
As my friend Pat Herron recently said to me, “You sure love Dunbar, don’t you.” Admittedly, it’s true. It’s the school my boys attended and it’s our neighborhood campus, undoubtedly the most beautiful in the Valley, surrounded by towering green oaks and grassy fields, still late spring green. I am grateful for the school campus, but even more, for the great school Dunbar remains, an academic institution of excellence.
Even more, I appreciate public education as an egalitarian and democratic system that holds great promise for the future. I like to know that all children are welcome and that each of them are held dear and provided equal education. Children are our future and education is essential.
My own Mama began kindergarten (in Eureka) not speaking English. Her native language was Finnish and in the small community of loggers and fishermen, her family members and acquaintances all spoke Finnish. My mother often talked about how hard her first year of school was. She yearned to sit next to the teacher on the piano bench while songs were played and the other children sang. She deeply missed her recently deceased mother and because of that, didn’t try to speak, didn’t try to look at anyone. She simply had hopes, sadly unrecognized.
At Dunbar, I see a different world. I see non-English speakers welcomed, language shared, affection freely given, warmth in words and actions.
Stepping up, stepping out
Last Thursday morning, I attended Dunbar’s fifth-grade promotion ceremony, as I’ve done for so many years I can hardly count them. It feels to me that, not so long ago, I watched our sons Schuyler and Gabriel go through the same ceremony, under the same shining sun, surrounded by the strength and benevolence of trees. But last week, I was brought into the present by seeing beautiful, little Emilee Bess Atkinson, niece to one of Schuyler’s former classmates, Jake Atkinson. Then I watched Elias Antonio Casolla walk across the stage, the son of one of my former students.
Time indeed thunders on, as wildly rapid as the raging Sonoma Creek in winter and as softly sedate as a summer scented breeze. Yes, I am grateful for all we share: it is a good life in Glen Ellen.
At Dunbar’s promotion ceremony, principal Melanie Blake spoke eloquently, yet plainly, to the gathered students, all of them arrayed in their ceremonial best. From a blue silk kimono (worn by Luna Michelis) to a jaunty Madras plaid (sported by Alex Farrow) to a classic cotton brocade gown (looking sophisticated on Sara Galindo) the students wore their best and behaved in the way that dressing up promotes. I loved Amelia Lee’s red and black dress, which echoed one I had back in the ’50s. One young fellow, Nathon Zander Cox, added a respectful sprightliness to his walk with a dignified hop and a skip.