Musicians practice in jazz class and perform on campus and in local clubs. Athletes train daily to compete against other schools. Activism groups support outside organizations, lobby politicians, join protests and organize events to promote their efforts. Thespians rehearse, while techies design and build, for months leading up to opening night.
There is a lot for students to do at GDS—which also means there is a lot for the community to see. Let’s go!
High voluntary attendance at school events brings the community closer together. Students can watch peers practicing their varied passions, often wonderfully well. Teachers can see their pupils shine in non-academic pursuits. All attendees are drawn to conversation, or at least palpable common cause, by the drive for victory, the beauty of art or sheer admiration for the students’ achievements.
Kelly Morris, the recently departed high school office manager, wrote in a farewell email to students on Friday, “I hope you recognize what a special place GDS is and take every opportunity to connect with each other and your teachers/staff. Four years may seem long, but they fly by before you know it.”
Opportunities for that connection have seemed to proliferate in recent weeks, especially in comparison to earlier stages of the school’s gradual emergence from COVID strictures.
On April 14, members of a Policy Institute program about refugees hosted an evening event, with food and guest speakers, to “celebrate immigrant stories through food,” according to an announcement email. On April 21, the Slam Poetry Club put on a night of spoken-word poetry by students and professionals.
On April 23, the Student Action Committee ran Eco-Market Day, with booths representing various causes, to educate attendees about its work. That day also featured Sports Saturday, when most spring athletics teams played at home (or at Sidwell, in the case of baseball), drumming up excitement heading into their upcoming end-of-season competitions.
And on Friday, the lights finally rose on the spring musical, Footloose, for a triumphant, sold-out performance to begin a weekend run delayed and truncated by a coronavirus outbreak in the company. By the time colorful streamers descended from the catwalk during the show’s lively finale, they were all but redundant in the celebratory atmosphere already pervading the packed Black Box.
Those activities, varied as they are, have one thing in common: They not only let participants pursue what they care about, but invite others to go see, and perhaps even feel that passion rubbing off. How lucky Hoppers are to have so many such opportunities. Students and teachers should get in the habit of taking advantage of them.
Students already spend Monday through Friday at school from morning to afternoon. Why, some might understandably object, should I spend even more time here when I don’t have to? (Or: Does the Bit not realize I have a life?)
It benefits everyone when people choose to, say, see a show or cheer for a game: The performers or players, to use those two examples, experience the unmistakable—and unfakeable—sensation that what they do matters to other people. Attendees, for their part, might find themselves absorbed, as Footloose audience members certainly seemed to be.
The abundance of extracurricular offerings is nothing new to GDS students. But underclassmen have never seen the current volume of school-sponsored events, and everyone can use a reminder that not doing an activity doesn’t preclude you from turning out to watch it.
If anything, we encourage students to be curious about one another’s interests especially when those interests diverge from their own. Never think you’ll dance? Still see Fata Morgana. Don’t care a whit about who wins the Independent School League? Still show up to a lacrosse game. Or don’t know anyone singing in the cabaret? Still give it a shot. And so on.
No student can possibly do everything, but any can attend a large share of their peers’ performances, games and other events. When they do, the GDS community is the better for it.