Thursday, April 23, 2015

To Be A Friend

We had a smaller crowd in middle school chapel this morning. Our eighth graders were absent, being involved in a program of mentoring with our junior class. I haven't heard any input but I am assuming it went well. Being a small school on one campus allows our kids to interact in ways other schools can't. A number of our older students are aides with the small children and it tends to be a win-win situation. Our high schoolers get role modeling practice and our little ones get surrogate big brothers and sisters. Jesus spoke of the importance of behaving around children and our teen helpers get it.

This afternoon, as I was checking out my groceries at a nearby WAL-MART, a lady in the adjacent line heard me talking to the cashier, a high school senior. As she passed by me, the woman told me, "I taught 8th graders for fifteen years and I feel sorry for you," or something akin to those words.  I smiled as she walked away because I love my eighth graders. Let me give you a couple of reasons why. This afternoon, our two K-5 classes, taught amazingly by Gereta Semanek and Madison Fitle, each spent a class period upstairs with my two eighth grade Bible sections. Both our kindergarten and eighth grades are small this year- we have twenty-seven freshmen in waiting- so it was almost a perfect match. In both fifth period and eighth period, I assigned a middle schooler to a kindergartner and as close as I could with the same gender. We had them color pictures promoting our Honduras-Haiti project in which all of WCS collects coins to build and sustain Christian orphanages in these two poor nations. While they colored, the big kids led their new buddies in conversation. I was so proud of my students. Some of them really had to escape their comfort zones but they handled themselves like pros. The kindergarten visitors loved it, too. To them, eighth graders are celebrities and so essentially famous. As our time ended in both classes, we had the junior high big kids form a spirit tunnel for their downstairs counterparts as they reluctantly returned to their classrooms. Everybody needs to be treated like a hero at least two or three times a week and this fit the bill.

One of my favorite stories about the Savior was His becoming indignant at the apostles for shooing away the children, deposited by their moms and dads for the Christ to bless. The Twelve assumed the Lord was too busy to mess with those who had walked only a short time on this planet. I bet Jesus and these kids had some amazing conversations! And I heard two snippets myself in Room 258 several hours ago. The first was from one of my two Amys who told the little girl sitting with her that she used to wish she was older but now she wished she was younger. Words of wisdom from a thirteen year old! The second was much more poignant, cementing the need for bondings such as these. As they were coloring at their desks which had been pushed together, a kindergarten boy asked eighth grader Ryan, "Will you be my friend?" I didn't know whether to laugh or cry so I settled on beaming with pride. He picked a good one to be his buddy. Well, in actuality I was the one to pair the two up but you can't fool a five year old. In John 15:15, Jesus told His apostles He now called them His friends. That's a pretty big jump in relationship standing. I witnessed some of that today  and Westbury Christian School is better for it.

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