Let’s Lift Every Voice and Sing

2019_2020_SS_MS_Assembly_Black_History_Month_001Today is our final assembly in February, which makes it the final assembly we have this year during Black History Month. In honour of that, we have a special performance from grade 11 students Isabella Taite, Sascha Ouaknine and Justin Fisher. They’ll be singing Lift Every Voice and Sing, which was originally written as a poem in 1900 by civil rights activist James Weldon Johnson. With the help of his brother, it was turned into a song, and it became the official song of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The significance of the song became so great that it’s widely considered to be the black national anthem.

I went to school in the US when I was younger, and I used to sing this song in my elementary school with my classmates. My music teacher was adamant about educating the youth of today, and she would preach to us about the history of our country: what we were obliged to know and what we had the right to feel. The people she taught us about, the songs, the poems, and this one in particular, were so powerful and so pressing that I remember some of my classmates, in the second or third grade, would cry. I think the importance of remembering and keeping the past with us as we move forward is often overlooked. It’s easy to passively accept something without actively acknowledging it, so today we acknowledge it.

Lift Every Voice and Sing, is a song to acknowledge the past, but also to look forward to the future with hope. During the heat of the civil rights movement, it became a song that was performed around the nation, that was an anthem for all people to unite together and to strive for a proud and equal future. It took the place of the Star-Spangled Banner, which created to represent all Americans, but actualized to represent really only one event or moment. The Star-Spangled Banner doesn’t speak to the other struggles that went on in the US. It doesn’t speak to those whose hardships went unrecognized, it doesn’t speak to all the people. And here came Lift Every Voice and Sing, which is an anthem made to recognize all the people, to unite us all. So today, we remember. – Isabelle Whittall ’20

Lyrics:

Lift ev’ry voice and sing,
‘Til earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the list’ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on ’til victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
‘Til now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.

2019_2020_SS_MS_Assembly_Black_History_Month_004

The Positive Effects of Caring, Backed by Science

February 14 is Valentine’s Day, a day to celebrate love, and February 17 is the Random Acts of Kindness Day. So, I have chosen to focus on the IB Learner Profile Trait that ties all of these things together: Caring. I am hoping that all of you recognize yourself in this trait:

IB_Learner_Profile_Caring

We can associate the term caring with love, and Valentine’s Day has become the day to celebrate love. As a historian, I am often interested in the origins of such a tradition, so in doing some research, I discovered that Valentine’s Day has its beginnings as a pagan festival in ancient Rome, although it was in the Middle Ages that February 14 became associated with love. Over time, the date developed into the day we now see celebrated by exchanging valentine cards, and in some cases, chocolates and flowers. Here at LCC, candygrams are being sold so that you can send a candy and a card to your friends. Yes, it’s lovely that we set aside one day a year to celebrate love but think about it, there are 365 days in a year – 366 in a leap year, like this year. If we only celebrate love on one day out of all those days, what a waste of the other days! I would suggest that we celebrate caring every day of the year, with maybe just a bigger celebration on February 14. Think about what that could look like for you – daily acts of caring towards your family, your friends, your teachers, maybe even to people you don’t know personally, but who need empathy and respect too. That could be a lot of caring acts.

So, how could you do this? Many schools have a community service requirement for students. In the real world, or the world outside school, this requirement isn’t as common. However, many of your teachers engage in service not because we have to, but because we want to. For me, while I wasn’t required by my school, I still did it. I learned the importance of service from my parents, who were both involved in many community groups and activities. I may not have recognized it at the time, but my parents set a strong example for how to care for others besides yourself. They did this not simply by donating money to charitable organizations, but by giving of their time and skills. While it’s easy to pay a toonie on a Casual Dress Day, even if you don’t realize that the toonie goes to a charity of some sort, it’s a lot more challenging to give your time to help others. It’s also a lot more rewarding.

When my daughters were infants, I found out about an organization that worked with orphanages in China, started by a woman who had adopted a baby from China. This organization works with the staff at orphanages to make sure that the orphans are well taken care of. I began to donate money to the organization as a way of supporting them. I would often make a donation in the names of my children’s teachers. In fact, I still do that. The organization made it easy – they have a website where I can make a donation with my credit card. It takes only a few minutes of my time, and I feel good doing something to support what they do for orphans. It’s almost as easy as you paying a toonie for Casual Dress Day.

Then, I found a way to provide my time in service to this organization. They were looking for volunteers to help them with editing work for reports that they published regularly. On a regular basis, I would be sent pages and pages of reports to edit according to the guidelines the organization provided. It was not exciting work, but it felt worthwhile. I was providing a service that the organization would otherwise have to pay someone to do. Plus, I liked reading the reports about the children, especially knowing that what I was doing was in service to them.

The next time you pay a toonie on a Casual Dress Day, I challenge you to take a moment to think about the organization that it is going to support, and think about how you could support that organization or another one like it, with your time and effort – with your service.

There you have it – being caring, every day of the year, not just on February 14, can benefit you and the people to whom you show kindness. As this video shows, there’s science to prove it. Being of service to others can encourage more people to do this, and as we live the IB Learner Profile trait of Caring, we can make the world a better place for everyone, while bringing to life our school motto of Non Nobis Solum – not for ourselves alone.

Constance McGuire, Director of Academics


Works Cited

Dutton, Lenny. “Focus: IB Learner Profile – Caring.” Https://Www.excitededucator.com/Home/Small-Acts-of-Kindness, 3 Nov. 2019, www.excitededucator.com/home/small-acts-of-kindness.

“The Science of Kindness.” The Science of Kindness, 17 Nov. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9UByLyOjBM&feature=youtu.be.

Head’s Blog: Experiential Learning in Cuba

Headmaster Chris Shannon is on a two-month sabbatical. Currently, he is learning Spanish in Cuba.

Chris_Shannon_Cuba_Spanish_ClassI’m now halfway through a three-week course in Spanish in Havana, trying to awaken long-dormant Spanish vocabulary and grammar first learned years ago in high school. Sitting in a class has been both challenging and refreshing. It gives me great respect for what all of our LCC students do daily and it is a reminder that deep learning of new material is a lot of effort — it’s hard!

The Barclay Language School is only two years old. Like a lot of new ventures in Havana, it appeals to extranjeros (foreigners) and our coveted hard currency. Despite notable shortages of goods and lots of visible decay in the city, the entrepreneurial spirit is emerging with this young generation of Cubans. Classmates come from all over the world — some for a week, some for a month. To survive, the language school partners with a salsa dance school. So there’s a lot of interesting energy in our narrow one-floor building. Classes are in the morning and afternoons are for exploring the city and practising Spanish with locals. More on my discoveries to come. Hasta luego! – Christopher Shannon (Pre-U ’76), Headmaster

Head’s Blog: Why do Core Values Matter?

2019_2020_Lion_Mag_Global_EngagementFor 110 years we have operated as a school focused on the teaching of and adherence to values. They’re important in defining high standards, in promoting our students’ character development, and the creation of responsible citizens who are essentially good people. At the end of last year, we adopted six core values that we feel we should really stress here at LCC in all that we do. They’re foundations for our entire learning community. Not just students – faculty, staff, parents, alumni also.

I believe this is a very positive development, as these values help us to be clear about what matters here. It’s especially important to teach and defend important values that may actually be less evident or visible in society at large, where sometimes social standards, decorum or politesse seem to be in decline. Too often we see evidence of this through incidents of road-rage, people yelling at a referee at a sports match, someone not holding a door or helping an elderly person, or poor online comportment. Those are trends we don’t need to follow and will never tolerate at LCC.

So, here’s how we’re defining LCC’s Core Values:

Respect: In our actions and words, we demonstrate respect for ourselves, for others and the world in which we live. We are committed to responsible citizenship and are accountable for our behaviours.

Resilience: We are courageous in our conduct and demonstrate flexibility when faced with challenge and the unexpected. We grow from our experiences, are focused, and emerge stronger than before.

Integrity: We act in a way that is honourable, principled, moral and fair. We stand up for what we believe is right and are dedicated to the highest ethical standards.

Global Engagement: We own our individual and shared roles in shaping a better world. As a diverse and inclusive community that transcends borders, we promote appreciation of different perspectives, collaboration, and instill empathy, social responsibility and cultural understanding.

Kindness: We open our minds and our hearts to others with compassion & understanding. In the spirit of Non Nobis Solum, we are community-oriented and care about the people around us.

Well-Being: We foster a culture of wellness that supports the physical, mental, social and emotional aspects of personal and collective growth.

Reflect upon these LCC core values and discuss them. No one expects anyone to be a saint, but we all should do our best to live them and exemplify them. Why? Because living our core values matters! – Christopher Shannon (Pre-U ’76), Headmaster

Head’s Blog: Vulnerability

2018_2019_JS_House_Activity_Tug_of_War_10As we begin a new school year, I think that most students are excited about an array of opportunities, but a lot are also naturally feeling somewhat vulnerable. A major contradiction of our times is the unintended message of the nuts-and-bolts priorities of the “I generation”. I hear a lot about “I this” and “I that”. Let’s face it, across North America there’s an obsession with the individual and with individual public displays of personal competence and strength. Although there’s nothing wrong with strength, courage and developing into a solid individual, none of our students are able to do it alone, I assure you.

I recently asked high school students to consider how to gently shed some of their fear of appearing vulnerable. In all honesty, we are all vulnerable and need input and help from others most of the time. That’s a fundamental reality of the human condition and learning and working productively.

Students need to stop worrying about developing an impenetrable self-image, both in person or online. To do this they need to consider less focus on “I” or “me” and shift the focus more to “we”. Collaboration with others is a reality of life and a set of key skills to develop. It actually requires practice so that young people can become valued contributors who actually listen better and be genuinely trusted by others.

Despite the powerful cultural messages about having the courage to stand alone and stand apart from the crowd, I’m asking our students to come together more in groups. I have asked them to consider how you will develop their ability to work more effectively with others. Fortunately, they are gaining a lot of practice in the classroom.

All the modern workplace gurus and writers remind us that the ability to work with others is now the key attribute of today’s employees and professional teams, whether you are at a school or a start-up, or a professional, such as a doctor or a teacher. I assure you, our teachers all work in teams – more so than ever before. This is evident in our many dynamic Professional Learning Community (PLC) teams! In working together, they are impressive role models to our students every day.

So, I urge our students to let their relationships flourish and I guarantee them that in due course, they will feel good – more positive and well supported. We all do when we’re part of something bigger than ourselves. – Christopher Shannon (Pre-U ’76), Headmaster