I’ll Be There

The beginner choir was singing the opening notes to “I’ll Be There” when I finally tuned in to the middle school choir concert. I was there to see my daughter perform, in the advanced choir. Her songs would be last in the program. I had a long wait. And this is what made is hard to settle into my seat and just be where I was. I was waiting for everything else to be over. Besides, it was hot, we were in a public school auditorium and I could not get my camera to work for some reason…so I was frustrated. But, something about the opening strains of this song caught my attention, and I settled in. Almost two entire groups into the music program, and I was finally settling in.

You and I must make a pact


We must bring salvation back


Where there is love


I’ll be there.

Suddenly, I saw the faces of these little girls. One little girl had a sad hopeful look on her face. One shuffled her feet and was clearly searching through a wall of bright lights for a face in the audience. One of them swayed to the music as if she was really feeling what she was singing. All of them beamed. All of them wanted to be there. All of them were proud, and deserved to be.

Johnston is a performing arts magnet school in the Houston Independent School District. Kids from all over the district audition to get into the school. We did not move into the district in time for Haley to audition the year we moved into town, so we specifically found a house located within the zone of this school so that an audition would not be necessary. The school is that good…and that good for the creative students that go here. Artists, musicians, dancers, actors and singers…they have found the school and made their way here.

For many of them, their talent is their ticket out of a lower performing school within the district. The magnet program rewards those with the talent AND the willingness to work hard.

I watched every second of the rest of the performance. I watched these kids who innocently sang as the state cuts almost 200 million in funding from our district this year alone. The decision to make these drastic cuts happened very recently, but the impact is already being felt. The stable foundation underneath them is shaking and none of them can feel it yet. Not yet. But their parents do. We are watching. Some of us are figuring out what to do with our kids if the school system just caves in on itself. For some of the parents of these kids, there are no other options.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the kids of Nepal. Specifically, how this country, in this moment, has decisions to make about what their priorities are. The people of Nepal have suffered for generations for the opportunity to make decisions that are only recently theirs to make. In this moment, they can choose to build a future for their country that moves it into something inspiring to generations to come, as well as to the rest of the world. I am hopeful that they are not looking to us for that answer.

Tonight, I am thinking about the decisions our country is making about what is expendable and what is not. Tonight, I am looking into the faces of these children, children who are in school because we profess to believe that we cannot be a strong nation unless all of our children have equal access to basic education. Tonight, I wish there was some way to help every politician in the country see the hope I see in these faces. I want the hope in these faces to live…I want this hope to form the foundation for our future. As I go to sleep tonight, I will be praying for a shift in our perception that will wake us up and cause us to prioritize differently, because the children of Houston are not the only ones considered expendable by their governments. The politicians in this country need to all be held accountable for our future…and not just the period of time between now and our next election.

Xo,

Kimberley

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