Friday, January 31, 2014

Letter to my students and parents

After the incident at AHS on 12/13, I wrote the following letter to my students and their parents. I wanted to share it with you:
Over break, I received the above story from one of our parents.  I wanted to share it all with you with an additional note as well as some news about finals. Please pass this along to your students.

In WWII during the German air raids of London, a church in the city had a large stained glass window that it wanted to protect. They removed the glass pieces, left the metal skeleton intact, and church and community members each took a piece of glass to care for until the war ended. Afterward, they put the window back together. Some pieces were cracked or chipped, some intact, others did not return.  The skeleton of the window did survive though.  The post war window did not look exactly like it did prior to the bombing, but the character of the returned pieces with their chips and cracks was beautiful in a new way as the light reflected differently, and it was the love and care of those who took care of their little parts of the whole window that made the entire piece have new meaning.
We left Arapahoe on Friday as our individual pieces of glass taken home to be cared for and watched over this break by those we trust.  The Warrior structure remains ready for us to reclaim through taking back our classrooms, our spaces, and most importantly, our lives and our school.  And even if some of us return a little different, maybe somewhat chipped or broken, I am certain that we will make a more beautiful window when we return in January.  We are here to change the world, and I know no better people to take on this challenge than MY Warriors.
Many of you are concerned about finals. Rest assured, you only need to take a final if YOU want.  I’m not kidding. I will have grades updated today in all my classes.
With my English Lit classes, if you need to complete the final discussion on our semester long question, we can do so on Wednesday, January 8. Let me know ahead of time if you would like to do so. 
English 9 (Da’ Boys) and English 9 Honors: if you want to deliver your speech for your final, you can do so on Wednesday, January 8 or Thursday, January 9.  You do not need to deliver your “This I Believe” speech unless YOU want to. Some of you might find delivering your speech a great way to take control over closing the semester the way you want to rather than letting someone else determining the end. If you want to change your speech based upon the tragic events of 12/13, please do so. If you need help preparing, let me know. Also, some of you might just want to deliver your speech because you have worked so hard on it. You can also deliver your speech either of our class days. I won’t even grade it if you so choose.  Let me know what you are interested in doing.
I have shared the following Marianne Williamson words in my Honors’ class before, and I will share it with all of you now. I am not trying to spread any message through it, other than the message of hope:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Warriors, I am so proud of each and every one of you. I believe in you. I believe in the power of us together to shine a new light making Arapahoe more bright and beautiful than it was ever before.
Love, Smith

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