This last weekend, as we offered vaccines to our 12+ students and while we had a traditional staff social event that had been on hiatus during the pandemic, I was also reflecting on the past and watched with interest the memorial moments centered on a tragic historical event. A large portion of our community was engaged in thoughts and reflections surrounding that event and many of us may have been affected more directly through the impact on ourselves, friends, and/or family.
My reflections on 9-11-2001 involve my time as an elementary principal in Buckley, Washington. I received the call from my Superintendent as I was sitting down to breakfast on the West Coast and watch it unfold on television. I continued to my school and began immediately confronting worry and concern while comforting staff members concerned about friends and relatives in the New York area and waiting for word of their safety. Unbeknownst to me at the time, a close friend was in New York on a short business trip and was a few short blocks away from the towers in the midst of the emergency efforts. So, I remember with clarity the day as it unfolded.
But, here’s where the story takes a turn. Later that night, after a stressful day, I was woken to make a midnight trip to the hospital when my wife informed me that my daughter was intent on making her debut. At just after 3:00a on 9-12-2001, Erin Zurfluh entered the world.
So, I’m left with both one of the worst days in memory and one of the best days of my life sandwiched together. On this last weekend, I found myself reflecting on the importance of 9-11 when we all needed to come together, and thereafter, celebrated the 20th birthday of my precious daughter.
I think this may need to be the way we always encounter the most challenging times in life. Our adolescent learners often grapple with the emotional tides that swing from happy to sad in the blink of an eye. Even our youngest students can be crying one moment and the next enveloped by joyous giggles. Something that we thought was devastating often turns to silver linings that bring meaning and renewal getting us past the heartache.
In the end, I just want our community to know that some in our midst were reflecting on the past in recent days and may have shed a tear of sadness. This happens often throughout the year with different nuances depending on the cultural backdrop of your personal story. We should share these moments often, embrace each other in kind regard, and broaden the diversity of our global understanding. I cherish these moments in the true spirit of “Work Together – because without us all we’re nothing.” I’m blessed by your fellowship, enjoy the “bounce back” spirit in the worst of times, and the resilience built through common purpose.
I’m looking forward again to sharing some non-virtual time with all of you on the weekend. I’ll be there, with my umbrella if necessary. We hope for the best in the final days of summer but are always prepared for the worst. (Summer officially ends on September 22!). Dry and happy thoughts, please! See you on Saturday!