My first thoughts when I learned that I had to drop off my child at the Washington Hebrew Congregation at 6:00 p.m. and that Choral Extravaganza, GDS’s winter choral concert, itself would run an hour and a half?
They were around the logistics: how to manage the timing of the evening, fitting in dinner, estimating what time we would get home, worrying about homework, and, what it would mean for my nine-year-old’s bedtime.
To be honest, I was not thinking about how glorious the concert would sound.
But by the end of the concert… well, let’s just say I was singing a different tune. It was more than merely fine. It was magical. I watched my fourth grader Leo stand tall and sing proudly. I saw his delight witnessing the acapella group Five O’ Clock Shadow perform Baby It’s Cold Outside. I felt the goosebumps when the entire school belted out Stand Together. After the concert ended, my son said it exceeded expectations, calling it “uplifting.” I heartily agreed, as did my wife and her parents. And although it was late in the evening, rather than feeling tired, we were fired up!
One fact rings true and clear as a bell: GDS surpasses the high bar it has established—our experience with the concert just one example of that.
We arrived at GDS for our son’s first year as a new second grader with high hopes.
Leo has thrived intellectually, creatively, and socially. My personal list of marvels includes the Lower School library, which teaches our kids about the dangers of censorship and allows them to check out any book on the shelves. The mutual respect reflected in the practice of kids calling teachers by their first names. The compassion and caring reflected in the buddy program pairing fourth graders with kindergarteners. A commitment to art and music and math and debate and literature and coding. Teachers who are former students, demonstrating a living legacy to what their GDS education meant to them. The Free-To-Be-Me Assembly, reflecting action, community, and support for the LGBTQi+ community (and others!), not just policy. And the feeling I get walking down the hall among students that genuinely appear happy to be there.
Yes, I realize that what I am really describing are some of the ways GDS honors its mission statement. I guess I could have done it more succinctly. The mission that attracted us to GDS is indeed real. I’m finding it hard not to be over the top when my expectations are exceeded.
Does that mean I will not grumble a little next year when the winter choral concert rolls around? Perhaps. But if I do, it will be with good cheer.