Garry Wilmore (courtesy of creative commons)
The holiday season is one filled with expectation … of two weeks off from classes, of no more tests and homework. I find that I seem to look forward to winter break more as a teacher than when I was in high school myself.
Winter break is always a time for friends and gatherings, celebrations and revelry. This season, however, is the first time for many who have lost loved ones or are struggling with day-to-day reality. In 2018, Grady High School has lost peers, friends, colleagues, parents and mentors. We have Grady Knights struggling with health concerns and depression. The holidays seem to ironically intensify these ill feelings.
It is easy to tell someone to “cheer up” or to “get over it” when we see they are down, to tell ourselves that people shouldn’t be negative or depressed. Perhaps we don’t know what to say, that we don’t want to make people feel worse by discussing what ails them, or that we don’t want to be brought down ourselves. Those are all valid thoughts. It is difficult to know what to do during the holidays when the holidays seem blue.
If you’ve been in one of my classes or are a Jester, then perhaps you have heard me call students “Hanks.” Why “Hanks”? Well, the nickname for Henry (W. Grady) is “Hank.” Makes sense to me. All of us who work and go to classes here, are in my estimation, “Hanks.”
So I have a challenge for all you Hanks out there. Smile as you walk down the hallway. Reach out when someone seems quiet. Tell a silly joke. Jingle a bell. Listen when someone has something to say. Speak up when you are worried or concerned. Let people know they are not alone. Give a high-five. Hug someone. Say “good morning.” Laugh. Participating in actions such as these don’t solve the problems of the world.
The concerns we have are complex and sometimes seem insurmountable. But such actions may brighten a moment that otherwise be shrouded in shadow. And that is worth the effort in itself. So, Happy Holidays, and remember … BE THE BEST HANK YOU CAN BE.
Teacher, Speech and Debate Coach Chair, Grady HS GO Team