First Ladies of the Renaissance WOW!
On Friday, March 30, I was lucky enough to be invited to the Second Annual Breakfast with the First Ladies of the Boston Renaissance Charter Public School. What a treat! The First Ladies are part of the Voices of Renaissance Choir, which has performed at the White House several times. It began when a group of girls charged gender discrimination because a mentoring program had been started for boys – The Young Kings (a very handsome group of youngsters in their black suits and gold bow ties!). The school readily supported these young feminists and they chose the name “The First Ladies” for their group, which voluntarily meets on Wednesdays and Fridays at 7:25 a.m. before school.
The breakfast program began with a performance by The Young Kings and the First Ladies of the Renaissance. Here is what I saw:
- JOY – These students seemed genuinely happy to be at school and truly enjoying their performance. They were confident (and deserved to be since they were so obviously well-prepared), enthusiastic and all were participating.
- DISCIPLINE – I couldn’t but help observe the self control these students demonstrated as they stood quietly yet attentively waiting for the “grown up” first ladies to be seated and settle down. There wasn’t the usual class joker poking his neighbor or the girl who can’t keep her hands off the hair adornments of her friend. These youngsters clearly showed that they were responsible for themselves and could behave appropriately – perhaps even more seriously than the adults.
- EXCELLENCE – I’ve sat through many school performances as my own children went through school, but rarely have I heard such high quality music – especially from elementary-aged kids. The choices for the orations were also clearly sending these children a strong message about their own abilities and value. Their practice and dedication was evident! Listen for yourself!
- ACCOMPLISHMENT – These students had mastered every song and recitation. Their training and performance skills were in evidence when young man had a temporary lapse of memory and needed a moment to recall his lines, managing to do so with dignity and charm.
After a short slide show of inspiring photos of women trailblazers in a cross-section of professions and pursuits, it was time for one-on-one mentoring with a student. I was matched with Sarah, a 4th grader who wants to be a lawyer because she “cares about what is fair”. She loves to read and we discussed books and annoying little brothers, as well as appropriate April Fools’ pranks. I found her delightful and brimming with energy and self-assurance. Her manners were also impeccable!
Massachusetts First Lady Diane Patrick then addressed the girls, letting them know that she didn’t always feel comfortable speaking in front of an audience of the size assembled and didn’t always have high self esteem herself. Her inspiring message resonated with the attentive crowd and affirmed the message that the girls had recited earlier: “… And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
As I watched the bright shining smiles of young ladies around me, and listened to the awe-inspiring songs and recitations, it renewed my commitment to MBAE’s mission to make sure that all of our children are given the opportunities to pursue their dreams and realize their full potential by receiving the high quality education these students are getting at the Boston Renaissance Public Charter School.