How Long?
Tad Roach

 

It is August, a time of anticipation, preparation, and excitement for schools across the country. Students are buying back-to-school clothes and supplies. Parents quietly hope that their children will soon meet teachers who are skilled, kind, accepting, and thoughtful.

As educators, we have enough time in August to remind ourselves of the sacred and inspiring mission and work of schools.

We teachers prepare our courses and classrooms. We know we are sharing the wisdom, habits of mind and heart, recognitions, discoveries, and explorations that have led our country and world into both miracles and disasters.

We try to help our students find their way to creative expressions of peace, humanity, and solidarity as they study the human story in all its complexity.

We pledge on these August days to educate in such powerful ways that our students will succeed us with courage, grace, and honor. Maybe, just maybe, they as citizens will love fiercely enough to begin to heal and rescue a fallen world. 

We start by building cultures within our classrooms and schools, emphasizing the dignity of all in our communities and especially looking out for anyone who seems uncertain, insecure, invisible, or frightened.

Our students in this generation seem remarkably eager to respect and honor one another; they actively seek others who have different experiences, cultures, viewpoints, identities. They seek unity in diversity. The are impatient with ideologies of hatred, division, intolerance, and fear. They look at the adult world of paralysis and fear with growing contempt and impatience. 

It is August, and we could say that the events in El Paso last weekend remind us of what we witnessed in Charlottesville two years ago when ancient and poisonous hatred, prejudice, and violence suddenly sought expression and erupted on the streets of a town dedicated in large part to education. We sadly are not surprised at the early designation of the massacre as a “hate crime”, for we know that we in America continue to deny or forget just what happens when we demonize, objectify, and scapegoat the Other.

We have declared victory again and again in this country against these forces of hatred, only to find that as long as we have despair and desolation in our land, the sparks of hatred and division can always be ignited again. Those who worship hatred, intolerance, racism, and violence find affirmation from one another on the internet and yes, they hear, honor, respond to mainstream voices that deliberately or foolishly encourage and profit from vitriol and violence.  

We have held celebrations of how much we have learned and how far we have come in America, only to return to moments like these.

We put guns into everyone’s hands.

As schools open in the wake of these shootings this month, I say again to the politicians on the left and right that it is completely unacceptable for children to be arriving and schools to be opening this year with the ever-present threat of shootings in our midst. 

It is contrary to a free society, to our democracy, and to the principles of education.

It is unspeakable to ask a generation of children to run, hide, or fight in a school dedicated to learning, collaboration, and engagement in the community. 

It is a complete failure of our democratic government to ask teachers to awaken young minds and at the same time prepare for the violence of warfare in the hallways. 

It is appalling that law enforcement personnel know that at any moment they must put their lives on the line to protect our community’s precious and innocent children.

Our colleagues in education throughout the world wonder why American schools operate in a culture of lockdowns, gates, and security screenings. They wonder what happened to the promise and spirit of the world’s greatest democracy.

Yet here we are again, lighting candles of mourning, solidarity, and sympathy, preaching love and peace, while the threats remain unaddressed, unmentioned, and untouched. For over twenty years now, our schools and colleges, churches, mosques, synagogues, concerts, movie theatres, malls, stores, and public spaces have been subjected again and again to violence and human carnage. We do nothing.

St. Andrew’s mourns the deaths caused by shootings in Dayton, El Paso, and Gilroy.

We again ask, “How Long?"
 

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Warner Gallery Opens Year with Finding Ground: Paintings by Laura Von Rosk
Warner Gallery Opens Year with Finding Ground: Paintings by Laura Von Rosk
Sophia Cordova ’17

On Friday, September 9, St. Andrew's Warner Gallery opened its first show of the 2016-17 season, "Finding Ground," an exhibition of more than fifty paintings spanning twenty-five years of work by the landscape painter Laura Von Rosk. The artists was on campus that Friday to open the show and gave brief remarks at a reception in the Warner Gallery.

VI Form Art Major Sophia Cordova '17 wrote the following reflection after the opening:

Laura Von Rosk's collection Finding Ground spans about 28 years of her life and work as a painter. As I begin my year as an art major, this show provides an interesting perspective on artistic work. During the gallery opening, Von Rosk reflected on the changes in her work over time, and her journey as an artist. Her earlier paintings are rough, expressive, and brightly colored with thick brushstrokes and loose edges. As her work progresses she begins to sharpen her edges, shrink her brush strokes and develop a more distinct style. She creates scenes of nature which have incredible detail, but read as something dream-like. In the majority of her paintings one can identify common themes of repeating shapes and exaggerated forms like bumps and ditches.

Overall, the work was compelling and unique, but what I found most interesting was listening to her reflect on her years of work. She talked about the need to push herself outside of her comfort level in order to continue developing artistically. Although she had certain shapes or scenes that she admittedly "just found herself painting," her artistic growth demonstrates a confidence in her stylistic interests— she wasn't just repeating herself. She identified a few paintings as places where she began to use a color that she previously avoided, or to pursue a different type of landscape. This helped shape her story of how her work has evolved and how she has been able to independently mold a variety of small worlds in her paintings.

As an Art Major, I will hold more responsibility for the direction of my work in class. Von Rosk reminded me to listen to my instincts, and to challenge myself. Most inspiring of all: she expressed love, dedication, and joy in her profession.


Finding Ground: Paintings by Laura Von Rosk will be exhibited in the Warner Gallery through early October.