“Train up a child on the way they should go and they will not depart from it.” This is taken to heart in Small Town, Montana. Community involvement is important. When the kids do something noteworthy, people are there to support them.
Last night we were taken on a trip around the world by the high school students. The same students that prepared a meal for us two days ago donned traditional garb from different countries and told a captive audience about traditions around the world.
In the beginning, children were nervously wandering around the halls in the regalia of their respective countries. Some were harder to discern than others.
“What is that boy wearing?”
“He’s from Japan.”
Girls were wearing kerchiefs and boys had variations of head wear from sombreros, berets and – what is the name for the Russian hat? At the end of evening no one knew the answer to that question, but it was cute nonetheless.
They were nervous, but not too nervous. Girls in red broomstick skirts and black laced vests were trying to convince the quiet boy from Russia that (in the name of authenticity) he really was supposed to do the can can. He wasn’t going to sing let alone make himself a spectacle. The dance imagined or real did not happen.
The lights dimmed and the music started. The proud looks on the parents faces were moments to behold. Mom would take her eyes off her child and turn to Dad. They’d make eye contact, smile as if saying “We made something special, didn’t we?” and then return their focus to nervous Christian or Amber.
After every song, a smile of relief grew bigger. Tight shoulders relaxed. And the boys who refused to sing grew joyfully brazen in their shyness and tried to sing by mouthing the words and laughed together at their attempts.
And all of a sudden, those children wandering in the halls were teenagers. More than teenagers, they were high school students who took command of the situation. They were experts on Russia, Japan, Spain, France, Norway, Mexico and various other countries.
They finally believed what their parents and the community had been saying all along. You are important and you have something of value to offer this world. As quickly as it began, the evening ended. And that was all right. Because we all knew we’d see each other in two days at the home basketball game where those boys who were too shy to sing would dominate the court. And the same girls who tormented them tonight will cheer for them and tell them how wonderful they are.