A Musing for the last week of School in a Pandemic

One of my greatest pleasures in my work is the opportunity to speak young people be it individually, in small groups or to large groups. Often, I have been asked to speak to our 4th and 5th graders at their Awards Days. It really is an honor. In particularly it is meaningful to do this year as it is a year like no other. And while it is not religious in nature, I would be dishonest if I did not say scripture doesn’t influence the themes I choose when I speak.


Two passages crossed my mind when I was working in my remarks.


You who are young, make the most of your youth. Relish your youthful vigor. Follow the impulses of your heart. If something looks good to you, pursue it.

Ecclesiastes 11:9a (The Message)


Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Psalm 30:4-5 (NIV)


Now you won’t find theses verses in my remarks instead you will find a story about a couple of brothers who were preacher’s kids, but I think you may see how those passages influenced me.


And while this speech is secular in nature perhaps, we in the church need to hear them as well. I know my super serious Presbyterian nature needed be confronted with these ideas. Because this speech like my sermons was given by me to me to me, as much as it was given to the students I work with.


Anyway, perhaps sharing this speech with you as a musing is cheating a bit but hey this is the last week of school in the year of a pandemic, so I hope you accept this with a bit of grace.


If not, as I say to the kids sometimes you get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit.


Have a great week.


Clay


First, I want to thank Dr. Kennerly and the 5th grade teachers for asking me to give these closing remarks. Students I know as the closing remarks I stand between you and your end of the year party so I promise to keep it short, but I hope you will listen for a minute before going to sugar it up!


So where to begin…I mean WOW What a crazy year it has been!


And here we are at the end. Think of it. A little over a year ago one Friday you all disappeared, and I guess you started living in a computer because that is where I saw you.


Later in August you reappeared but instead of coming back to my smiling face you came back to seeing my variety of cool masks.


Instead of just walking in the second square in the hall with hands by your side - you were now told “second square 6 feet apart.”


You were bathed in hand sanitizer or so it probably seemed.


Even so many of you quarantined. And boy did your parents love it when I called them with that news – NOT!


We all digitally learned at one point.


You got to see what teachers ate for lunch – well at least every other week. You might notice on Monday it was a health lunch and by Friday it was Chick-Fil-A or leftover Pizza.


You heard lots of news even if you never liked news before or may not like it still you heard it. Some of your houses had it on 24/7 – some still do.


You might have heard all kinds of politics talked about and sadly learned about Tweet storms and Facebook fights.


You now know about all kinds of adult problems and have even been asked to help with solving them.


Social distancing, washing hands while singing the ABC’s or Mr. Gunter’s Famous Wash Your Hands Song are now the new normal.


And after years of being told to share you were told not to share unless it had been sanitized.


You were told in 5th grade you would switch classes…. Lol we were just kidding…We will let your teacher switch instead.


And if your house was anything like mine you may have heard grown-ups disagree on all kinds of stuff and sometimes not do it very agreeably.


And if you were like me sometimes you might have felt stressed or anxious or nervous or even mad at stuff…or life.


I know I have!


And now they ask me to say something to end the year that will inspire you and get you ready for next year when the truth is, we really have no idea what next week will even be like!


Now normally I talk about the fact you will be leaving Sixes next year and I want you to take all you have learned and use it at Middle School – to continue to be good examples and shining kind Sixes Stars and I want you to do that…but I am going to ask you to do something I have never asked any group to do before.


I want you to take time to PLAY.


You see I worry all this has made you grow up to fast…and you have forgotten wonder and joy and imagination.


And that bothers me because I do not think you all need to grow up so fast. You will have plenty of time for that. In fact, my message to you is that I hope part of you never does grow up and you always let play be a part of your lives because if you keep that sense of play you might discover you have the right stuff to change the world.


Let me explain what I mean by telling a story. A true story…


Years ago, in Europe there was a man named Al. Now he wasn’t a toy maker by trade, but he loved to mess around and play with gadgets…One day he was playing with a band of rubber and twisted it around a stick and let it go.


When he let it go, it spun around fast and popped him.


That pop gave him an idea.


He crafted what would later be called a propeller and fastened it to a piece of wood with cork and wound it up with the rubber band and when he let it do the wood flew up and hovered for a while in the air as if by magic.


He did it again and again perfecting several different versions.


Unknowingly through his play Al made the first Torsion Motor.


He turned it into a toy that became popular and sold wildly.


It was so popular made it across the Atlantic to America where a church bishop (that is a preacher) bought it on his travels as a present for his children. He wanted a toy his five kids could play with that also sparked the imagination.


The all liked it but for two of the kids it was just the right toy.


In fact, you might say they played with it the rest of their lives.


These two boys made different versions of it making it bigger and bigger. They kept playing with it making it just right until those two boys –sometimes called by their neighbors as the bishop’s sons or bishop brothers did something unthinkable. Now you and I call these two boys the Wright brothers. The two boys named Wilbur and Orville Wright made the toy so big that on Dec 17, 1903, it flew in Kitty Hawk, NC for nearly a minute. And now that toy can fly you and I around the world.


So, don’t grow up so fast…keep wondering…keep finding joy…keep using your imagination…keep playing…because who knows from your play you may create something that will change the world.


Have a great summer, know we are proud of you, and remember to always keep shining like the bright Sixes Stars you are.


Clay Gunter


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