Magnet School of Global & Ethical Studies – 3829 Avenue K, Brooklyn NY 11210 (718) 377-7696
Henry Miller Theatre – Wikipedia
The dictionary defines serendipity “as the gift of finding valuable or agreeable things not looked for”. I define serendipity as Lucy Anne Hurston. She is a gift I certainly was not searching for, but I found her on a “cruise to nowhere.”
What exactly is a cruise to nowhere? It’s a sail on a The Norwegian Gem cruise ship, which sails out of New York harbor for the night and turns right back around the next morning to the New York harbor. For one night my friends and I, who were celebrating our fiftieth year, enjoyed being travelers on this ship, but for us it was not a cruise to nowhere. It was a celebration of friendships, which have spanned over thirty and forty years–friendships that had always taken us somewhere.
Just as the gathering was beginning, while waiting on the check-in line for the ship, we began chatting with the lovely woman behind us, She pointed out to my friend Pat and I, that a man was about to jump ahead of us on line. We were then able to block his attempt at line cutting, and we shared a laugh with our new friend Lucy Anne about this. Well, we chatted as the line snaked about, and then we went our way and Lucy Anne went hers. We smiled and waved goodbye and hoped to see each other on the ship.
And we did meet once more. I spotted Lucy Anne as I sat with my eleven friends on the top deck enjoying the sunshine on this brisk January afternoon. I walked over and Lucy Anne and I started to chat. She was writing in a little book and you know how that intrigues me. We spoke briefly about our professions and how we were both teachers, Lucy Anne at Manchester Community College in Connecticut, and I of course at P.S. 119. After a few minutes, she showed me her last name: Hurston. I looked at Lucy Anne and I said: Zora Neale Hurston. Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hurston? High John De Conquer, Hurston? She just smiled, and I could not believe that this lovely woman we met casually on the line was as I later found out, the niece of Zora Neal Hurston, famous Harlem Renaissance novelist and folklorist. Lucy Anne herself is the author of Speak, So You Can Speak Again: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston.
It’s funny what can evolve when you take a few minutes to smile and chat and get to know a little bit about the person behind you on a line or at the next table or the next seat in a classroom. Imagine the opportunities that lie within a small grasp, if we only reach out and smile or try to connect with each other? Well, Lucy Anne and I exchanged e-mail addresses, and she told me the book I had written my e-mail address in, was the place where she was writing her new book, I scanned the pages to see her notes. I felt like I was holding in my hands a secret. Amazing
I then asked Lucy Anne to join my friends and I introduced Lucy Anne to my girls. I told them about her aunt, and we proceeded to chat a bit more and take the picture posted here. Lucy Anne did not stay long as she was on this cruise to continue writing her book.
You see this was not a cruise to nowhere for her either. She was going somewhere with that book, just as we were going somewhere with our friendships. As we said our goodbyes yet again, Lucy Anne generously offered to visit our school to read aloud and talk abour her aunt Zora Neale Hurston. I could not believe my ears. She also generously said she would send our library autographed copies of a series of books about Zora Neale Hurston. I was, and I continue to be floored by her generosity of spirit.
Within one day of our leaving the Norwegian Gem cruise ship, Lucy Anne has shipped out those books we will treasure in our library for years to come, and she is scheduled to visit with our school on February 27th to culminate our celebration of Black History Month! Now you tell me…was that a cruise to nowhere or are we all going places? Never underestimate the power of a smile, as it connects us in so many ways to each other. And together, we can really go places. Thank you Lucy Anne for taking P.S. 119 along with you on your life’s journey–it will most certainly enrich ours!
Zora Neale Hurston links:
Hope by Maya
Change is the word that rings
From sea to shining sea
The word so many have hoped for
The struggling mother with little pay
The working husband who must cut his hours
They all yearn for change
They all hope for change
But still, and throughout this struggle for Americans
Hope does not fail
We have hoped for a new beginning
For a chance to start over
As if it were some kind of miracle
It came in Barack Obama
Who promised to “silence the cries of the hopeless”
So as we reach for a better America
Let us not forget that hope has arrived
It will prevail and change has come
Change is the word that rings
From sea to shining sea
“…that we are not as divided as our politics suggests;
that we are one people;
we are one nation;
and together, we will begin the next great chapter in America’s story with three words that will ring from coast to coast;
from sea to shining sea – Yes. We. Can. “- Barack Obama
I was a nervous wreck that day walking up the steps to my class. I felt like I was going to have a heart attack I was walking up the steps as slow as possible until …orange the third floor and my class. Shanteek was in there when I came and Ivy’s Dad was waiting. Six minutes later I was called in. My mom made me sit next to Ms. Rivieccio . Sometimes she annoys me. I couldn’t believe it, I had a ton of 4’s on my report card. My mom said ”I’ll treat you to something big. I just smiled and thought to myself, I want to know what it was. My teacher said before no one was going to get a 4. Ms. Rivieccio said ”But I didn’t specify who though.” So my mom and Ms. Rivieccio kept on talking and lucky me my mom didn’t come out angry. Oh. What about the other teachers? Hmm?
This event is important because in this plane, the left and right engines were both missing from the US Airways plane when it splashed down in the Hudson River on Thursday afternoon. On Saturday, Ms. Higgins said that investigators planned to find the aircraft with two large cranes, which will place it on a barge for transit to a secure location. All 155 people aboard the medium-range jet escaped safely because of the pilot’s quick thinking. The pilot quickly pressed the emergency button so they safely landed in the water and all of the boats came to save them and they all lived. – Mohammed Faysal 2-107
Taken from Yahoo News by Ruggiany Georges
Text of President Barack Obama’s inaugural address on Tuesday, as delivered.
I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.
Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we the people have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents.
So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.
That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.
These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.
Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.
In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.
For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.
For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.
For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sanh.
Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.
This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.
For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do.
Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.
What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. Those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.
Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.
As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers … our found fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all the other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.
Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.
For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.
To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.
As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.
For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.
Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.
This is the price and the promise of citizenship.
This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.
This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.
So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:
“Let it be told to the future world … that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet (it).”
America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.
Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.
An ocean of heads, faces, smiles
Across a crowd of people I see
As I watch my mind drifts with wonder
Can he be our leader?
As our beacon takes the stage
The crowd goes wild with praise
Our guiding light
Shines on all of us
The oath representing
The presenting of the leader
to the free world
Now our world has changed
As I see, as we see…
Barack Obama is…
Looking out the window of the library this morning–inauguration day–Ruggiany used the billowing smoke from apartment buildings to conjure up this poem that inspires hope. Enjoy!
I see smoke rising from buildings
As the day begins to dawn
That smoke waves like our flag
The flag represents our country
Now the first African American President
Will build up our falling country
By giving us hope
There will be tough problems ahead
We can do it all