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Hook, Line and Sinker

By Tony Hooker
Ode to Joy:
Joy, beautiful spark of divinity, 
Daughter from Elysium,
We enter, burning with fervor,
heavenly being, your sanctuary!
Your magic brings together
what fashion has sternly divided.
All men shall become brothers,
wherever your gentle wings hover.

These words were written in 1785 by Friedrich Schiller and later immortalized by Beethoven as the final movement of his Ninth Symphony, which is widely regarded as one of the greatest pieces of music of all time. In fact, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is considered a bridge between the classical baroque period and the romantic period that followed, largely due to the fact that it was the first symphony to ever incorporate singing into what had previously been a strictly instrument led genre. 

Why the history lesson? Because I think it’s cool. And because it has been with great joy that I’ve seen things return to a large degree of normalcy for the first time in over a year, both at work and at our schools.

Friday night, I stood amongst friends, neighbors and peers and watched as Dr. Jones along with his son, deployed his helicopter to drop golf balls onto Russ Ghere field as a fundraiser for VG athletics boosters as hundreds of folks looked on and hoped gallantly that their ball would either be the closest or the furthest from the mid field flag. Afterward, the JFL footballers, proudly sporting their gray ghost jerseys, rushed onto the field to collect all the balls, somewhere around 1000 of which had been purchased and showered from the hovering helo.  

After the two winners were determined and the field cleared, nearly 100 student athletes from JFL, Golf, Cross Country, Cheerleading, Volleyball and Football took turns moving to the middle of the field and proudly receiving recognition for their participation. 

The spectacle was truly moving, and oh so needed, as we try gallantly to emerge from the past 18 months of darkness and look with trepidation toward a future battle with the Delta Variant, which sounds like the title of a bad Sci-fi space flick. Here’s hoping that all precautions are heeded and that we can have a normal fall sports season. These kids, who this week gathered in the hallowed halls together for the first time in nearly 18 months, deserve some degree of normal after showing such resiliency. 

Back in Class
At Parkland, this Monday, we will welcome back students to our classrooms for the first time since the Spring semester of 2020, for the most part. Just seeing the furniture being put back in the gathering sites, seeing water fountains that are no longer covered, hearing laughter and loud voices, and truthfully, if a little weirdly, having to park in the south forty because all the good spots are taken has been such a familiar, welcome experience. I am a huge proponent of online learning as a tool for convenient delivery of content, but a sizable piece of the learning experience is the shared misery of a boring lecture or the excitement of discovery as a group, rather than as an individual. There really aren’t many lone wolves in the adult world, so being able to communicate with and work alongside one’s peers is a valuable lesson that in person schooling provides. Again, I can only hope that due diligence is enough to keep the negative forces at bay and allow the old norm to become the new norm once again. We all deserve it.

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