This week I had the privilege of joining with the community of leaders, faculty, students and family at Cornelia Connelly Center for their morning assembly. In most of our member schools, the morning assembly (or in some cases afternoon assembly) is a critical point of contact in our students’ lives. At CCC, which is located on the lower east side in New York City, daily attendance is taken at morning assembly. Much more than a teacher scanning the room and marking a √ next to a student’s name, daily attendance at CCC is a personal affirmation. Two students alternate turns greeting each member of the community, first the faculty and staff (“Good morning, Ms Neeley!”) then the fifth graders (“Good morning, Nicole!”) followed by the sixth, seventh and eighth graders. When greeted, each person responds with a “Good morning!” (Naturally a teacher or student that does not respond is absent.) There is a pace that has been practiced and perfected to personally welcome nearly 100 members. Students are joyful and composed. Without interrupting the flow, some teachers and students mix it up with a “Grateful to be here!” or “Spectacular day ahead!” One student on her first day without crutches responded, “I’m free!” And if a student (or faculty member for that matter) seems out of sorts, there is a caring friend or attentive adult that notices. With the constant refrain that Lives Matter over the last few weeks, how wonderful to witness that lived out in a community that personally welcomes each person to the day and provides an opportunity for that person’s voice to be heard.
To close this particular assembly, four teachers beautifully sang “I will wait for you,” a song that was sung at camp during the summer. A connection was made to the season of advent in which individuals and communities of faith prayerfully wait for the birth of Jesus in the manger. At CCC, it is clear that preparations and gratitude for the Christmas season are extended each day in a morning assembly that welcome and honors each member of the community. On behalf of the NativityMiguel Coalition, wishes for a Merry Christmas and a joyful New Year.