360.

I have Three-hundred-sixty Facebook friends.  I have probably hugged 300 of them.  I used to perform in a lot of plays when I was a teenager, and now I can see folks I used to hang out with regularly, and glimpse their pretty little photos online whenever I wish.  One in particular is a woman I met when I was fifteen: My high school music teacher, AMK.

A few weeks ago, AMK sent a message to a list of us via Facebook, asking alumni to “audition” for an in-concert version of Into the Woods, a fundraiser for the disappearing curriculum.  Our high school is a public arts magnet in California experiencing terrible cuts to the budget and the school day.  (Apparently 9th graders need an extra hour of mathematics and English to pass competency exams.)  It does not surprise me that students today are failing the State mandated expectations.  Not every district is full of “good” schools or “good” students.  But I transferred to this high school in 10th grade because I was obsessed with singing, dancing and acting.

My grades were just fine, but I was unpopular amongst my peers.  I was dispassionate (what teenage girl isn’t?)  I had poor taste in clothes and I didn’t have a pager.  I had no interest in partying or watching 90210.  My parents offered me a chance to switch and I took it.  I showed up at Lincoln High School in 1994 and I felt at home somehow.  It changed me.  And most importantly, I got to take choir after lunch, musical theater after school, and dance instead of P.E.  I was at school for 7.5 hours a day, but I was in heaven.  There were cute boys.  Some of them loved to sing as much as I did!

Next fall, FOUR classes will disappear from the arts program at Lincoln High, if money isn’t raised.  And I find myself wanting to walk through the doors of the campus again, not only to contribute, but to SEE IT with my eyes.  I miss my music teacher.  She has a website now (amazing how teachers have changed!!)  She has a great presence at the school still, a powerful leader.  So, of course I was eager to send in my audition video via email (just 24 hours before they bulldozed my kitchen!)  I waited a week, checked Facebook 8 times a day for news of the cast.  And, I got in!  I am going to sing the role of Cinderella.  I feel blissfully warm, anticipating the weekend we rehearse and perform.  It’s given me a lot of thought about art and education, how deeply I care about it.  I keep ruminating on the subject, over and over.  More on this in a future post, I am sure.  For now, I am off to bed.

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