We have been doing a lot of talking this year during our Saturday School Days about identity, values, and living into our lives powerfully and with purpose. Starting out this fall with our adventure with the author of Walking to Listen, Andrew Forsthoefel, who reminded us that we can learn something from every person if we just stop to listen and respectfully receive others, and continuing with the Graboys Leadership Symposium discussion of role models and values, we were ready to turn our thinking further inward this winter to consider who we are with Dennis Febo, and why we matter with Bobby Petrocelli. What was interesting, and doubly powerful this weekend, was the confluence of Heathers: The Musical with Petrocelli’s message delivered during last Saturday’s School Day program. We couldn’t have planned it any better.
Just as Petrocelli laid out his case for how each person matters because of their unique capacity to influence others, positively or negatively, our students were in the midst of depicting on stage the broken-ness that comes from neglect, loneliness, self-hatred, sexual harassment, bullying, and selfishness. Each of their stories shared consequences that followed a deficit of love and care in our lives, and how forgiveness and kindness can break the cycle of pain. Petrocelli’s story points were being played out in the musical: that people make hurtful choices when they themselves are broken and can’t see their value. And conversely, as shown by the end of the show, the impact we can make when we act powerfully with love, care, and concern. So simple, and so well depicted in the heart-wrenching themes of their related stories.
We know students best learn, grow, and develop into impactful people in environments that know, value, and respect them for who they are. As we reinforce the high value we place on community, kindness, and support for one another as a foundation for creating a conducive learning environment for our students, it is important for each of us to reflect on our individual role in this mission…our purpose. After Petrocelli’s talk, we did just that as we asked students to reflect on their purpose. Taking Petrocelli’s message of “You Matter” to the next step, we discussed with students what they can do, day to day, to make a difference for others, at Tabor and beyond, to bring about the goals they seek to make real in their lives and communities.
Petrocelli, and the Heathers cast and crew, reminded us that our actions, in each and every moment, can be used to purposefully build or to detract. At Tabor, our purpose is to build. Starting with a strong community foundation based in friendship, trust, and connection, we are here to build caring and productive citizens who can bring creative ideas and leadership to fix what’s broken in our world. And, as Petrocelli would agree, not a moment too soon.