It’s the last day of school. Grade-12 students have been working hard and tirelessly to arrange the party.
The gym has been literally transformed: from a place where we put on the line our psycho-physical skills, into a place of creativity development, from the point of view of costumes, scenography, painting, music, electricity, IT, relationships, food, organisation, administration. A real Creativity Day aimed at finalising the party.
Marco and Giovanna have been working really hard. It’s been more than one month since they started the party preparation.
It’s my first year as a director. It began with the greatest expectations but ended with many doubts on my way of administering the school: very creative but possibly little traditional. In May, I am called for a meeting with the school board who tells me some particular doubts about the way I manage the school. The most emblematic term is chaotic.
Many little ideas proposed without any decisiveness, and much work for teachers and, especially, for the administration office, struggling among ministerial duties and weird projects by this present-day heckler director.
The last one is, indeed, the end of year party. Kids continuously addressing teachers, principals, employees, with the most varied and unbelievable requests: a beach umbrella, sand, wide white wall sheets, kaleidoscopic light system, sockets. A continuous string of requests. But it’s the end of the year! How is it possible to satisfy all these requests? And, more importantly, what is the purpose?
That’s true, in the past, other parties were organised, but then everything was left. Too many responsibilities. Too risky! Some students’ good intentions were regularly ruined by ill-intentioned guys not attending that school, who took the end of year party as an opportunity for provocation.
Starting from this, I decide to only address the party to students of my school and regularly booked for the party. Those who do not book aren’t allowed to join.
The registered students are 240 out of 450. 12 graders and especially 13 graders disregard the event, but grade-9 to grade-11 classes convincingly join the party.
Among the students there are great expectations, as well as among teachers and principals. The board look at the event with great concern.
I can feel that the tension is high. Not only the party is at stake. For the students, it’s the possibility to realise a party completely made by them, giving proof that they are committed.
For the teachers, this opportunity of celebrating that moment together with the students, could be detrimental to their authority.
To me, it’s the opportunity to prove the sense of a more lively school, where students actively participate, in contrast to a school always and only managed by the adults.
For the ownership, that is, the diocese, there’s the risk of experiencing unpleasant events inside the school.
It looks like we are watching a national football match, whose outcome would decide whether the players or the trainer lived up to the expectations: victory.
It’s about 8.30PM. The party begins quietly, with the students coming in dribs and drabs and feel a little confused by this school changing its features at night. Luckily, it’s a nice evening of June: the air and sky are clear and the school outer courtyard crawls with elegantly-dressed girls and boys. Under the beach umbrellas there is plenty of fruit snacks, cold cuts, drinks.
The entrance only allowed to booked students worked well. All those who had previously booked are present, and some attempts by students from other schools have been rejected: the patrols put into effect by the students worked out well. And there is Fiore, the school porter, who monitors the school entrances together with the patrols: he seems to be satisfied. After a quick dinner and the greets there will be time for music.
The teachers were invited to join the party. The kids smartly let the party begin with songs that could be enjoyed by teachers too — so let’s go with Jovanotti, Vasco Rossi, Pink Floyd, and you can see the teachers dancing and enjoying the party inside of the gym. However, with those songs the students seem to observe, rather than join. It’s not their time yet, they don’t feel at ease. Marco and Giovanna, the event organisers, look worried: the students are coming and going without any confidence of what is happening in their school gym.
Marco, Giovanna and I give some worried glances at each other, almost like the team captain, his vice and their coach.
What can we do to enliven it? To make it more hands-on?
For a second, a doubt comes to my mind: I’m afraid that the match takes the wrong track, the track of pointlessness: badly spent money for the ticket. I start thinking that the students don’t understand the meaning of that opportunity offered them to show everyone their worth. Everybody but Marco and Giovanna. I look at them, and add my concern to theirs.
I feel judged for what I tried to do: making the school more student-oriented.
But the spirit of the party depends upon their entertainers. We are here to live the party. The aim I wanted to reach, was to educate at living the party. Indeed, because I believe that nowadays we go to parties, but we do not live them. It often happens that you face many people who, acting as spectators, are ready to judge without putting themselves in the organisers’ shoes. This is clearly a result of the media, which want us to be careless judges of shallow contents.
But quality is here. The efforts made have been massive. It is not only the success of the party to be at stake, but also its organisers’ reputation.
I can feel all of these concerns while the party is going on. Then, around 11PM, at middle second-half of the match, the goal comes.
Wonderful, unexpected and extremely yearned for. Marco, at the console choosing the music, hits the nail on the head with the right songs, which, due to my age, I cannot recognise. I see the students entering the gym from the courtyard: there’s none outside now, and everybody starts dancing like in a tribal rite as old as the world, but that gives the sense of freedom, of joining an enjoyable event. The gym becomes the place of bodies moving — no more mechanically like in the morning, but harmoniously like in an orchestra masterly conducted, where everyone plays his/her role and welcomes with joy his/her belonging to it.
It’s a crescendo of involvement: students more and more excited, more and more moving, more and more happy of enjoying that moment. 2-0. 3-0. Goal, goal, goal.
I watch Giovanna: she is seated close to Marco, who puts on a song after the other, more and more involving. She turns at me and, as if we have always understood each other on what was at stake, she tells me:
Teacher, we made it! We did great. The party has finally taken off. I was scared, as at the beginning it all looked so aloof.
And Marco, replying:
Now, the finishing touch, teacher. It’s midnight. The last song is by Jovanotti. CHE FIGATA DI SERATA (Such a cool night, ndr).
The match finishes 5-0.
The music is turned off, everyone should be going home but they’re all there, asking for another song. Marco looks at me with pleading eyes, Giovanna presses me with her hands joined and imploring.
But, guys, it’s midnight already… we had a precise deal, I reply, quite unconvinced.
Come on, teacher, we don’t have classes tomorrow
I can’t resist: OK, let’s start again with Jovanotti.
Win out. The defense of indifference caved in under the lethal blows made by the forwards of youth enthusiasm.
The school won. The young won. The present-day heckler is clearly a night heckler.
How wonderful it is to disturb in order to wake up.
If the school was able to become “the institution of the awakening”, there wouldn’t be only a redemption for the students, but for the whole society, and above all, for the man’s consciousness.
The following day, there were only positive comments, the echoes of that party could be perceived throughout the whole town. The following school year, a high school near our school organised a similar party, as an effect of the enthusiasms generated by ours.
This is possibly the most wonderful thing.
Waking up the man is contagious. There’s a great desire of relieving from lethargy. Everybody is waiting for someone else to make the first move, but everybody is equally eager to be awaken.
I believe that, as time passes by, the man wraps himself up around nihilism. Maybe, a party may unwrap it.
You only need a present-day heckler and two young believing it.
World champions! World champions! World champions!
Head of GSO School