I’m a Believer by Nancy Mugele

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The cast of Kent School’s production of “Shrek Jr.”

I always write a draft of my column on the weekend before it runs. I call it my “writing weekend” so Jim knows that means I get up early and sit on the porch with my laptop and coffee. It also means that I don’t talk to him for a long while as he drinks his morning tea. For some reason he never complains about the not-talking part, but that is another story!

My writing weekend is finally the perfect temperature to enjoy long periods of time spent on the porch. I am also savoring the non-writing weekend porching. As all of us in schools can attest – May is just as busy as September. So many joyful culminating trips, events, and showcases. All wonderful, but sometimes leaving us breathless.

With all due respect to the incredible cast and crew of Sweeney Todd at the Garfield, the musical I most enjoyed last weekend was Kent School’s 8th Grade production of Shrek, Jr. Directed by our talented teacher Jim Landskroener, with musical direction by Kate Bennett and art direction by Pat Parkhurst, the Class of 2018 surprised all of us with their passion for the stage. The show was hilarious, tender, sweet and hopeful as an ogre and a princess with a secret were prodded by a donkey to share true love’s kiss. Bravo to the cast and crew of Shrek, Jr. I loved every moment!

When the cast followed their curtain calls with the song “I’m a Believer,” I couldn’t help but smile and think what a fabulous coincidence it was. After all, my word this academic year at Kent School is BELIEVE. In the Dreamworks movie Shrek, Smash Mouth performed the song and introduced it to a whole new generation. The original song, however, was composed by Neil Diamond and recorded by The Monkees in 1966 with lead vocals by Micky Dolenz. Does anyone else remember The Monkees, a TV show that Dolenz described as “about an imaginary band that wanted to be the Beatles yet was never successful.” Ironically, the actors/musicians became one of the most successful bands of the 1960s, although the TV show only aired for two years. I admit I was a fan. But, I digress…

Kent School’s Class of 2018 continued their immersion in theatre arts this week when they traveled to the Garfield for a very special presentation yesterday. After reading The Diary of Anne Frank, and visiting the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC on Monday, they enjoyed a live production of The Story of Anne Frank by the Bright Star Touring Theatre sponsored by The Garfield Center for the Arts Educational Outreach. The play was especially moving to our students. We are so fortunate in Chestertown to have the gift of the Garfield – a true local treasure, led by Kent School alumna and current parent Tess Hogans. If you have never been – go!

As a young girl, I loved reading Anne Frank’s courageous and poignant account of living in hiding for two years with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in World War II. Anne wanted to be a writer and a journalist when she grew up. Sadly, what she did not realize as an adult due to her death in a concentration camp, she actually had accomplished in her childhood. The world is so fortunate to know her story. I am very partial to quotes by Anne Frank (and Helen Keller) and often use them in my writing at school. This year, a few times, I have thought about these impactful words from Anne’s diary, “In spite of everything, I still believe people are good at heart.” I agree with this sentiment whole-heart-edly, and, of course, the quote contains my word for this academic year.

What shall I pick for next year’s word? I have started a very short list, but am happy to entertain suggestions.

 Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at Kent School in Chestertown and a member of the Board of Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s.

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