Monday, December 8, 2014

A Powerful Statement

Friday night my daughter and I went to Oakland Mills High School for the WBAL Concert for Kids. According to Conductor Philip Hale, this event started about eight years ago, with about twenty-five students performing. Last year they raised $10,500 and this year was their first official "sold out" show. And from twenty-five students performers it has grown to a full sized orchestra, chorus, dancers, and collaboration with the Bridgeway Community Church Choir. Oh, and a visit from the Man in Red, reading "A Visit from Saint Nicholas."

It is hard to put into words how awe-inspiring this event was. It was absolutely the best in student performance that Howard County has to offer: singing, instrumental playing, and dance. And it was the picture of Rouse's dream for Columbia: racially, ethnically, and economically diverse--all coming together, using their talents, to help others.

Oakland Mills doesn't need reinventing. I defy anyone who was in that room on Friday night to say that our community is broken. The audience and the performers reflected the heart and the diversity that is Oakland Mills. We need to celebrate and build on who we are. I wonder if anyone on the Oakland Mills Board was in attendance. I certainly hope so.

The cultural diversity of performers, and especially the inclusion of the Bridgeway Community Church Choir, gave the evening a particularly joyful yet heart-rending flavor. I could not help but reflect on recent events as the room rang out with an upbeat, gospel version of "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing."

Born that Man no more may die...

Hands up, don't shoot...I can't lives matter...

Yes, I cried. I cried for joy that we could have a moment of unity during a time of great sorrow and loss. I cried because my heart was full. For an entire evening we were immersed in the experience of vibrant community. This is who we are.

There are those who think that community is about improving property values and limiting access to poor people and eradicating hungry children from our schools by making sure they live somewhere else. They are wrong.

Life is not lived to its fullest by negation, or subtraction. Community is strengthened by building on what works, inviting others to be a part of the conversation, building bridges to share success.

Kudos to everyone at OMHS who had a hand in this amazing event: teachers, students, parents, administrators, staff, and also to Bridgeway Community Church, WBAL, and all of the guest performers. The gift of your shared talents will mean joy at Christmas for needy families.

And they gave our community the greatest holiday gift ever.





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