In the spring of any given school year, it feels like we are racing around as everybody is immersed in curriculum and activities. It is in fact hard to keep up with all that is going on. Let’s just look at last Thursday, May 10th, a typical day at school. Two kindergarten classes went to Shore School, a first grade class was at Added Value while a third grade class trekked up to the American Museum of Natural History.
Meanwhile back at 610 Henry Street, life was humming, humming and fun and culminating with a well attended concert in the auditorium. We had the pleasure of listening to Sarah Ferholt’s band performing Balkan music.
At the concert Sarah did a brief teaching about Esma Redzepova, who died recently and who has been an major mentor and inspiration to all musicians of traditional Balkan music. Esma was a great social justice advocate, and she was a folk singer and composer of mythic proportions, commonly referred to as the Queen of Romani Music.
Sarah introduced the subject in the following way, ‘Once upon a time, long long ago, in a land far far away, called Macedonia, there was a small Muslim Romani girl named Esma,’ like she was a magical heroine in a fairy tale. She went on to describe her very real-life musical virtuosity, heroism in fighting racism, sexism, and xenophobia, and her journey to world fame and public influence from poverty and silence as an impoverished Romani Muslim girl from a religious family that forbade her from performance because of her gender. Her father, who had lost a leg in the war and worked as a shoe shiner in the street in Skopje, was the sole supporter of his family of 8.
Sarah told the children that Esma also had something in common with all of them, that she was an activist who used her power to make positive change and to fight discrimination. She was particularly active in support of women’s rights and Roma rights, and she fostered 47 impoverished Romani Muslim children!
After the concert, Zaina Etman, a child in Abby and Sarah’s first grade class, wouldn’t leave. Sarah was busy talking with different people and gathering her things to go teach aftercare, and she wasn’t fully taking in Zaina’s voice as she repeatedly said ‘Sarah, Sarah!’ and waited for Sarah’s attention. Finally she put her hand out and stopped Sarah in her tracks, beaming up at Sarah– Sarah bent down to hear her over the din of dismissal- it was clear that Zaina had something important to ask or tell Sarah, and she burst out, ‘Sarah, I’m a Muslim girl!!’ She looked so proud!
Pride continued later in the day when our fourth and fifth grade students represented BNS at District 15’s Science Fair at PS 130. It was great to see our fourth and fifth graders teach others about what they are learning in class. (Worm Composting, Storm Water Run Off and Lego Robotics) There is no better way to deepen your understanding. With confidence, poise, and passion our students taught participants from all over District 15. (And it was great to see a number of our former BNS students there as well.) Visit the Ecorama blog to see for yourself.
Just one day in our community, followed of course by many others. A big round of thanks to the parents who organized the Maker Fest on Saturday, May 12.
Once again, we were immersed in exploration and creativity. It doesn’t get any better than this!
All for now,
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