In reflecting on the last few days, my mind has turned to how we all faced adversity in what can only be described as complicated times. For me, walking into a clean, but “injured” building this week inspired a moment of consideration — How can we confront these challenges in a way that helps make sense of these events, while also learning from them? How can we strive to improve and get ever better in the midst of painful experience?
Our fire was small by all estimation. Approximately 8 square meters of space was damaged by flames and the associated melted plastic, quickly extinguished by the fire brigade, who responded in under 10 minutes. But, as previously reported, the smoke damage was significant, affecting areas associated with the school core including both cafeteria and library. The loss of our library and cafeteria is daunting in the final days before a vacation. While we are quite sure we will have them back up and running in January when we return, we will miss these spaces in the final days of 2016. The cafeteria has settled into our small gym and worked well in its trial run on Monday. We are confident that we can manage in this space for the next 9 days. The library will be setting up makeshift operation in the Elementary School Tower. With over 3000 books in circulation at the time of the fire, we expect that some redistribution of these books may keep us reading and sharing until the vacation. Maybe Christmas lists could shift a bit and accommodate a special book for a young reader during the coming holiday!
In many ways, while the hardship of renovation begins, we are all educators in our hearts looking for the lessons of how we respond in situations of this nature. We can look on the bright side of the equation, knowing that the damage could have been much worse, or the timing of the day could have caused more challenges. We can celebrate that the systems worked to keep everyone safe in the moment, that responders arrived in record time, and that key staff members were here doing their best to protect our interests. We can also feel a bit better that insurance companies have arrived and are providing favorable treatment to the school, helping us to navigate our interests in the face of contractors and specialists.
The more important lessons will come in the after action review, the deeper reflection on the systems and strategies that will keep this from happening in the future. This may be the most important lesson, gleaned from prudent and comprehensive investigation, that we may need to be more rigorous in our inspection and adjustment actions, ensuring that similar incident is avoided in the future.
But, despite all of the events associated with the fire and the work that lies ahead to bring the building back to normal by the time we return in January, we enter the final days of 2016 with the spirit of the holidays entering our hearts and minds. For those of us cut from the American template, the recent celebration of Thanksgiving brought the beginning of transition to the season of good cheer, a time filled with celebration and joy found through family and friends gathered in fellowship. In the coming days, we will celebrate with our children in performance and song – having finished the high school play on the weekend, we now enter into the holiday presentations of Choir and Instrumental offerings. These are special times for students who have worked hard to prepare their offerings through diligence and commitment. The performance part of these artistic pursuits are so important and fleeting that we need to give special attention to them and join the audience that will applaud their accomplishment. Join me on Tuesday and Thursday this week at 6:00 p.m. as we enjoy our Choir and Band performances in our Theater. Students have worked hard and they deserve a packed house for their offering of time and talent.