Earlier this week, on Groundhog Day Eve, I asked fourteen MICDS students—one selected at random from each grade—whether it would be fun to have a groundhog as a pet. Half said “yes,” half said “no.” “If you did have a groundhog as a pet,” I inquired, “what would you name it?” In alphabetical order, their responses were Alan, Bert, Bob, Chucky, George, Groundy, H.D., Mr. Chippy, Pebbles, Popeyes, Rosey, and Rover. In case you were looking for a name for your own groundhog.
As to understanding what the holiday is actually about (“What do you think happens on Groundhog Day?”), clarity would appear to correlate with age, and responses from the 4th grade and up were generally textbook. I was delighted by a couple of exceptions, though, including one statement of the obvious (“The groundhogs come out of the ground”) and one non sequitur (“I think it is going to be really cold and hopefully snow again”). For their part, the younger crowd was either uncertain but in the ballpark (“The groundhog sees a shadow? They try not to?”) or certain but nowhere near the ballpark (“There is a big party and everyone celebrates because it’s summer!!”). When in doubt, project confidence.
My next question was more to the point of our present circumstances. “There is a movie called Groundhog Day where the same day keeps happening over and over again,” I said. “Do you think that right now, during the coronavirus pandemic, every day feels like the same day over and over again?” Every student except one said “yes.” I followed up: “What do you do to try to make each day different and special so that every day doesn’t feel the same?” If I were to translate some of their responses into an advice column, they would read like this:
- “Play video games and play with your lizards.” (Bryce, 3rd grade)
- “Work out. Spend time with your family.” (Lainey, 8th grade)
- “Do phonics on some days with Mrs. Rohan, and do reading on some days with Mrs. Ead!” (Nicholas, SK) (This one may not be scalable due to the limited availability of our wonderful senior kindergarten faculty, but perhaps they take appointments?)
- “Do different activities after school.” (Anonymous, 4th grade)
- “Try to find a different game to play every day.” (Andrew, 7th grade)
- “Talk to different people every day and switch up your routine at home.” (Kenni, 9th grade)
- “Play outside and do fun activities upstairs and draw.” (Heidi, 2nd grade)
- “Do different games with your dog.” (Chloe, 10th grade)
- “Play with your friends. Do different hairstyles.” (Brooklyn, 1st grade) (I am inspired to try the second of these myself.)
- “Try to make people laugh so everything isn’t so serious.” (Anonymous, 5th grade)
- “Play with a different truck every day.” (Nash, JK)
So who was the student who answered “no”—who said that during the pandemic every day does not feel the same? That would be, fittingly, the senior in the group, Dillan Sant, from whose example all of us might benefit during this challenging time. “Playing basketball every day really helps me break out of the monotony of COVID life,” he says. (Dillan competes on our redoubtable varsity boys team. Go Rams!) So we should add “Play basketball” to the list above.
In an email that Dillan sent to me after taking the Groundhog Day survey, he wrote, “I am so honored to be selected!” It is another example from which we all might benefit, to appreciate and find joy in the smallest of things.
Always reason, always compassion, always courage. I wish you either a belated or a recurring happy Groundhog Day—whichever is your preference—and a very happy weekend with your families.
Head of School
This week’s addition to the “Refrains for Rams” playlist: Suite in B-Flat Major, HWV 434: IV. Menuet by George Frideric Handel as performed by Khatia Buniatishvili. It felt like a good time to add another classical selection to our playlist. Buniatishvili’s interpretation is plaintive and lovely. (Apple Music / Spotify)