The Beauty of Culture and Our Changing Society

Tonight, I had the opportunity to watch something rather wonderful. I wasn’t alone, we all viewed what represents the identity of who we are, how we represent, what is truly special about our school district.

Tonight, Shakopee High School, held a culture fest, one that celebrated a host of different ethnic groups that as a collective whole did speak to the beauty of our diversity. There were dances, puppetry, singers that modeled cultural mores produced by a student body that exists beyond the classroom. They smiled, they hugged one another, they reached out to a marvelous gathering of people from all walks of life.

Parents came to support their children. There were people that might not walk into a high school because there could be apprehension due to cultural differences that are sometime intimidating because of language barriers and matters of equity and diversity. There were visitors, faculty, administrators who attended and spoke to one another and celebrated students who came up to them and shook hands, gave high fives, smiled and laughed and beamed with pride and courage for what they were accomplishing together as a collective whole.

To be a teacher in this school district is a special blessing in the sense that we get the chance to interact with a student body that teaches us how to recognize and understand culture beyond what is sometime taken for granted. I am so proud of our students and the organizers of our Culture Fest.

A celebration of identity is truly important when realizing the beauty of how we can interact and engage together to showcase talent, passion, and a desire to be accepted in our constantly changing society. We can be extremely proud of our district and who we are and the golden opportunity we have to offer something special to a remarkable and invaluable student body.

The Message of Camelot and high school theatre

Today, I am reflective. This weekend our students performed Camelot on the Shakopee High School stage. This is a show that has been with me since as a child, my mother brought me to see my first production in Wausau, WI as our neighbor was performing in the ensemble. I remember being immediately drawn to the atmosphere, the nuance, the beauty of the stage. I knew at five years old, the stage was where I belonged in some capacity.

I have always wanted to perform this show, and now we are blessed to have the gift of such a talented group of students, to afford the opportunity to attempt such a prolific musical. The dialogue is eerily timeless in our era of border disputes, and haunting terrorism that merits a world misguided by fear, greed and envy. There is a dialogue profound to our needs today. “We are civilized” in the words of King Arthur.

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As we endure the pain of Paris and all of the hotspots of real torment in our world today, I take pause in knowing that theatre allows us to imagine the illusion of a peace that is attainable, is though far-reaching, within our grasp, if we might take the time to ‘think’ as Merlin tried to instill in King Arthur. I wish only love and peace to our neighbors and that we do understand the meaning of a borderless world brought on by an inherent grace in our lives today.

When writing these words, I am immediately drawn to notions of my mother, Jane Amundsen, who taught me idealism as a child and through her spiritual guidance today. I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful group of students to bring these ideals to the stage, if not for the span of a few hours of our lives. I hope all of you can find the time to come and see Shakopee’s production of Camelot on the high school stage.

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*photo credit – author