I do not expect every day’s reflection to be so easily inspired, but this fourth day of Lent was kind of a no-brainer.
I awoke this morning to a couple of updates on Facebook letting me know about the year-end art project for my middle daughter’s 8th grade class. You can see the entire album here, but suffice it to say, there were more than a few tears shed.
To this point, all three of my daughters have attended public school in San Francisco. A significant portion of that time has been at Rooftop Alternative School, an arts-infused K-8 school in the San Francisco Unified School District.
Depending on who you talk to, you will get a different perspective on Rooftop. The parent community can be a bit over-zealous, it has had moments of feeling exclusive, and privilege is evident in much of what we are able to do. At the same time, Rooftop is one of the most ethnically diverse schools in San Francisco, the arts are used as a lens into the world in order to creates lifelong learners; and there is great intentionality about addressing issues of injustice and marginalization both within and outside of our community.
So, before anyone bad-mouths Rooftop — with all of its warts, we love this school.
One of the most important aspects of this school is that, while often called an “art school,” it is not a place focused on the “how tos” of art. So instead of learning how to master techniques, they learn how to use art as a filter, medium, and instigator for learning. One year, the primary arts focus may be opera, another year playwriting, and yet another year a fine art of some kind. Sure, over the years, they may come home with more art projects than kids from other schools, but through the arts that they are able to absorb, understand, and integrate all of the academic, social, and cultural content that they receive.
The power of this arts focus is no more evident than in the Voices of Justice project. This project, one that melds creativity, justice, and history moved my soul this morning. I have known most of these kids for now nine years. They and their families have become part of our family. Knowing that is their last project at Rooftop is bittersweet. None of us knows what any of these kids will become in the future, but knowing that these seeds of inquiry, creativity, and justice that have been planted over the past decade give me hope for us all.
I give much thanks to all who have inspired and encouraged this part of their educational life. You have changed lives and thus the world. Thank you.
See you tomorrow.