Sunday, November 18, 2012

Ballad of the Nice Yellow Lady: Reprise

Crazy White Lady
To paraphrase Blanche DuBois, sometimes there's hope, so quickly! Last night, I went to my school for a concert given by the group Cuerdas Clasicas, which specializes in Spanish classical string music and Mexican folk music. The group was joined by a mariachi band and an amazing female soloist. The concert was free and open to the public, and my school's community came out by the hundreds to see it. I only saw about 20 of our own students, but there were tons of parents and many adults who were unaffiliated with the school. And many people were dressed in their best swag. I felt embarrassed in my jeans.

This is the kind of thing that our principal is just amazing at organizing. The leader of Cuerdas Clasicas, Rudolfo Hernandez, teaches guitar lessons to our students once a week after school. My principal found the money to purchase guitars for the students to use and learn. Last year, the club was about 5-7 students; this year, it's about 15. Most of these students are mediocre or worse academically, but they come to school most days because of this club. Two of them, twins, have gone from hardly being able to play guitar to playing guitar and mandolin in the hallways. Another one, who failed my class last year, was in the guitar club and played a Death Cab for Cutie song at the talent show last spring.

These are the kinds of things that a great school does and should do. A great school can be a cultural organ for its community. A great school can give students great memories. No one remembers much about their day-to-day classes in high school. But most people have really strong memories of their high school friends and their high school activities. I remember every night of every play I stage managed, and I remember the one time my father came to watch me play volleyball. 

I've talked a lot on this blog about what CPS is missing, and what the school I work in needs. But there are many things that Solorio has. It has a strong, vibrant, beautiful community. It has an inspiring leader who wants the school to be a beacon for Chicano culture. When I wrote that post yesterday, I was feeling pretty hopeless. Last night, when I heard an entire audience singing and clapping along (to a song that I'd never heard before), I found some hope.