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Field of Dreams

Every child in the elementary school is asked to write out a dream on a little cloud of paper.

“I want to learn how to write cursive.”

“Make new friends.”

“I want to be able to run 2 laps without stopping.”

“Pass the multiplication test.”

“I hope that I have a lot of fun this year!”

“Learn about butterflies.”

The clouds are strung together by classroom, and the strings are hung next to each other, forming a fluttering “Field of Dreams” at the center of the school year’s first assembly, held out on the blacktop play area. The rockstar principal commands the kids’ attention with both her call out…

RP: Almond?
Student Body: Eagles!
RP: Almond?
SB (louder, all other conversation stopping): Eagles!

…and sheer presence. She welcomes everyone to the new year, to the school community. She walks through the importance of having dreams and setting goals, big and small, right from the beginning of something, like a school year, and then working diligently to achieve them, all the while supporting those around in realizing theirs. The talk culminates in the distribution of tiny bottles that the whole student body uses to blow hundreds of bubbles to symbolize letting dreams soar before she busts out the gong.

RP: This gong will help you focus on all the great things you are going to do today and this year at Almond. I want you to listen to its sound, and when its sound ends, I want you to raise your hand. When you can’t hear its sound anymore, raise your hand. Now, you can’t do that if you aren’t super quiet, okay? (Lowering her voice as the crowd quiets.) When I strike the gong, it will make its sound, and I want you to raise your hand when you can no longer hear it. (Lowering her voice even more.) This is an activity that you might want to do with your eyes closed. That might help you really focus on the gong’s sound. (It couldn’t be much quieter.) Ready?

She strikes the gong, holding her microphone next to it. As the sound fades, a hand or two goes up among the seated children, then more, then a wave of them, from the kids and the teachers…and a few parents around the periphery.

RP: That was great, everyone. Let’s do that again. Listen to the sound, and when it ends, I want you to raise your hand. (Pin-drop quiet.) Ready? Here we go.

She strikes the gong again: one or two small hands up prematurely, a few more, many more, big hands up, from all the teachers and now, most of the parents.

Everyone, a hand in the air, smiles around at each other in the silence. A birthday presentation and the Pledge break the spell, somewhat but not entirely. The assembly breaks up, kids, teachers, and parents starting this Friday just a little more mindfully.

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