HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal

Going Out with a Bang Beat!

by Lianna Reisman Issue: Bold Ideas
TOPICS : Students

The Shoshana S. Cardin Jewish Community High School in Baltimore has been the center of our family’s universe since 2006. We moved from Columbia, Maryland, to Baltimore so that my older sister, and later I, could attend this school. At Cardin, students flourish in small classes while developing meaningful relationships with an outstanding faculty. Each student is nurtured in a pluralistic, Jewish environment, where Jewish values, history, and traditions are infused throughout the curriculum, and opportunities for civic and social involvement abound. My sister arrived as an introverted freshman in 2006, and graduated four years later with a level of confidence no one expected, a resume full of social action projects, and sincere recommendations from her teachers that won her scholarships to all of the colleges of her choice.

I was looking forward to having similar experiences and graduating from Cardin just like my sister. In 2011 I learned that I had been accepted to Cardin, and I saw my exciting future unfolding. When the official word went out on February 5th that the Cardin School would be closing—with the school’s closing date coinciding with my 17th birthday!—I felt shocked, confused, disappointed, even petrified. My long-time dream was shattered. My friends and I went through the process of denial, grief and finally acceptance of this harsh reality. The atmosphere in our school became gloomy and depressing, with students sulking through the hall with heads hanging low.

Watching this sadness take over the mood of the school brought to my mind the Maccabeats song “Gotta Keep Your Head Up.” With these words running through my head, I decided to take action. On February 10, I sent an email to the Maccabeats, asking if the group could perform for our school to celebrate its amazing history at the end of the year. I thought that having something exciting to look forward to would boost the energy and morale of the school community.

An hour later, I received a response from the group’s booking manager, extending her sympathy regarding the closing of the school, and ready to talk about dates and technical requirements. Suddenly, I found myself in the concert planning business! We quickly agreed on a date.

Then I remembered I hadn’t actually mentioned this idea to any adults yet. Admittedly, I needed to involve my parents, but I wanted to maintain as much control as I could over “my” event. My mother and I approached the head of school with my idea. Concerned about the school’s lack of finances, he was unable to provide financial support for this event, but offered his blessing if we wanted to move forward. Next, my mother and I approached the executive director of the temple where we wanted to host the concert, and he agreed to let us use the facility at no cost. My family and I brainstormed ways to raise the money to pay the performance fee. We developed a plan for approaching businesses in the community to seek sponsorships. I wanted to make sure this event would be free for Cardin students and faculty.

I met with my grandmother and her friend, a professional fundraiser, and we talked about raising money, budgeting and advertising the concert. We fleshed out the idea of including a celebratory dinner for the Cardin School families after the concert, and how to approach local kosher restaurants and caterers for their help. The wheels were moving faster and faster!

My mother had an idea to approach the school’s board of trustees for financial support. To our joyous surprise, individual board members volunteered to fund the concert fee. The tasks left for us were advertising and ticketing logistics, and obtaining donations of food for the celebratory dinner.

Now we are in the final stages of contract completion. I wish I could say that the mood is so full of concert excitement that everyone has forgotten that the school is closing, but that wouldn’t be true. Yet the anticipation of this concert has definitely lightened the mood of everyone in the school, and students’ heads are definitely up much more than they were a month ago.

As for me, I’m focusing on the excitement of planning this event. The concert is set for June 9. I’m petitioning to move my birthday to June 9 this year, because it will be such a memorable day!♦

Do you have a special story to tell about your experience in day schools? Share it with the field! Send an essay of 600 words to Haydion@ravsak.org. Submissions from all stakeholders welcome.

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Bold Ideas

Dream big! Sample a mix of current programs and blueprints for new initiatives, all dreamed up to be “game-changers” that can reconfigure day school education and possibly exponentially increase the impact of day schools on students and the Jewish community.

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