All posts by Jessyca

Your Free-Falling Wish of Religion

Quakerism class is a mandatory activity for all 7th graders at GFS. Suffice it to say that when it comes to favorite classes, it isn’t on my list. Even though GFS is a Quaker School, one understands that we are supposed to learn what FRIENDS means at Germantown FRIENDS School. Friends doesn’t necessarily mean that we are friendly people. It means that you believe in the Quaker principles, otherwise know as the SPICES: simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality and stewardship. Yeah, I understand, and I believe in all of these things, but I believed in them before. Besides that, I learned about them every single year of Lower School. My real problem with the class is that we are forced to learn about the principles of one religion again and again instead of  the principles of multiple religions. Maybe learning how different religions overlap with each other, and learning about how other religions practice some of the Quaker Principles that most of us know so well.We always practice Quaker principles, because GFS is a Quaker School, but we never really get a chance to learn and explore the vast possibilities and differences in other religions. We are always learning about the Quaker way of things, and being forced to think about things in a set way, and maybe that’s the main reason why I see some of the 7th graders dreading to go to Quakerism Class.

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Hallway Talking or Why Middle Schoolers Act Like We’re Three

Middle School Conversation
Kid 1: So then I was like, ohhhh my gawd, is she talking to me!
Kid 2: What a freak.
Kid 1: I know, she’s soooo annoying. The worst part of it all is that I have to be in the class with her! She’s my stupid research partner!
Kid 2: Oh sorry, I’ve got the smartest person in the grade.
Kid 1: Your soooooo lucky.
Kid 2: I know. Smiles*

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Why Cuban Music?

One of our recent assemblies featured a Cuban band that goes by the name, Conjunto Philadelphia.  This Cuban band has, on piano, Jeff Torchon, one of the music teachers that teaches right on campus at Germantown Friends School.  Also, not only is Jeff Torchon in the band, the other band members are people that he has met in his life. (Well, obviously he’s met the people before).  Some of the players in the band are professors from Jeff’s time at Temple University.  The rest of the people, that weren’t professors, are all friends of Jeff.  Jeff founded the Conjunto Philadelphia in January 2010.

The Conjunto Philadelphia strictly plays Cuban Music.  You may be wondering to yourself right now, Why would you ever start a Cuban band?  It was an easy question for Jeff when I asked him this.  The sixth graders in the Gondi homeroom have been watching a documentary about Cuban Music.  Jeff watched it, too, but he was 16 at the time.  When Jeff saw the documentary he instantly fell in love with the music, culture, and history.  When Jeff watched it, he thought to himself, How can I understand better the culture that I just saw?

Not a lot of people know about Cuban Music.  Jeff happened to be very lucky to find the people that accepted to be in Conjunto Philadelphia.  “All except lead singer and percussionist are first and foremost Jazz performers,” says Jeff.  He knew that they were all talented, and they agreed to play Cuban music with Jeff, so…Voila! A Cuban band was born.

You may be wondering right now if Cuban Music isn’t popular, How do they get paid?  As with most gigs, some you are paid money, and some you aren’t (unless you are extremely famous).

No matter how many gigs they do or don’t get paid for, they seem thrilled just to perform and be playing the Cuban music that they love so much.

Magic is in the air!

The holiday season has arrived; the season where there are little boys and girls being extra good just to get something they wanted, instead of coal in their stockings. This is the season when there is generally lots of talk about magic going around. Now, magic is a debatable topic for some people. Whether you believe in it or not is certainly your choice. Some people say magic is real, some say it isn’t.

But think about all the holiday specials depicting flying reindeer, elves and Santa Claus. Many of these holiday specials have one common theme: magic.  Why does the need to believe in magic seem so important at this time of year? Perhaps the whole magic concept was just a scheme to get children to be good. Maybe this a reason behind this ideas of seasonal magic. If you think about it, magic is a way to make sure that at least during the holiday season people (mostly children) are on their best behavior. If they get something good in return for being on their best behavior, if that is what it takes for people to be on their best behavior then, why not? Religion may also influence your opinion about magic.  Do you believe in the miracle of  the birth of Christ or one drop of oil burning for eight nights? Maybe magic just helps people be more imaginative. Maybe it just makes the holidays seem a little more special.

Whatever the reason, belief in the magic of the holidays means seeing the possibilities in something, believing in something that seems impossible. Will some people be disappointed when they find that what they thought was magical as children is not actually real?  Perhaps? But would they trade the wonderful feelings they had when they still believed in magic?  Probably not.

Perhaps one type of magic that we can all believe in is the magic of being with your family and friends for the holidays or just seeing the excitement in a child’s eyes about the season or maybe for you magic is just not finding coal in your stocking this year.