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Middle School Advisory Connects with Surrounding Community: The Rock Story


I know many of us are taking long walks these days, and in our neighborhoods we occasionally come across some treasures that delight us and remind us of our common humanity. Children in my neighborhood have become chalk-art wizards, for example. I discovered a house close by that has an ostrich-shaped mailbox! And of course now that spring is sprung, the hope-filled progression of crocus to tulip to peony is fully on parade. The other day, while I was walking through my neighborhood park, my eye was caught by a small, smooth stone whose coloring stood out from the creek bank. Upon picking it up, I saw it had been painted a delicate golden green. Written on one side were the words, “Inhale courage, Exhale fear.” On the reverse, it said, “If you find me, pick me up and hide me somewhere else for someone new to find.”
I was reminded of this stone during Grade 3 teacher Crystal Buffington's beautiful Martin Luther King Jr. Chapel homily. Referring to the story of David and Goliath and connecting Dr. King’s courage in the face of the many forces that sought to stop his work to that of a youthful David armed with only five smooth stones in the face of a giant, Ms. Buffington asked students, "What stones will you use to fight giants?" Dr. King’s stones, she said, were love, truth, prayer, dream, and vision. While those five words hold big ideas, the beauty of Ms. Buffington’s message is that these stones lie along our paths every day, ready for us to pick them up and hold them, warm and ready, in our capable hands.
One giant we all faced this year was the looming threat of disconnection. To stay safe and healthy, we had to be apart, but that apartness left us vulnerable to loneliness, and disconnection threatened to dim our purpose, which relies so much on the spirit of community. One place I looked to gather stones this year was in the MacArthur Campus advisory program. As advisors, Middle School teachers create small families with their advisee groups, gradually forming an identity through a special connection borne of daily routines, shared learning such as our division-wide reading of This Book Is Anti-Racist, and small projects and games. My 6A group last year loved to play the “human knot” game. Natural problem-solvers, they loved to tangle themselves physically and then talk themselves out of the knot their entwined limbs created. That game was my enduring image of them, and this year it will be 6A’s painted stones, scattered around the neighborhood near the MacArthur Campus. If you find one, let us know. Then hide it again for someone new to find and, together, let’s keep connecting.
Julia Smith
Grades 6 & 7 Literature Teacher

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