The pipes have died down, the Leprechaun parade has ended, the cabers are all tossed, Syr’s sweet tunes are silent, and the 2nd Annual Irish Fest Camden is already a pleasant memory.
A number of my friends congratulated me on the success of the event, even though my major contribution was following Becki O’Hara’s vision and trying my best to keep up with her prodigious energy. Her work is legendary, and it included managing the work of dozens of other people who believe as Becki and I do—that the event is important. In fact, it serves several purposes. And the combination of these purposes makes the exertions well worth the effort.
The most important outcome, of course, is the sums raised for scholarships. The school actually spent more on scholarships than it had budgeted in order to allow a number of children to have a Montessori education whose parents would otherwise have struggled to afford it. This will be an ongoing goal of the charter school. While children in grades K-6 (and eventually 7 and 8) will have no tuition, our school will (in fact, to have a high-fidelity Montessori program, it must!) begin with three-year-old children, and in most cases the state doesn’t provide educational services to them. So to make Montessori available to everyone, the school will be allocating available funds to offset the cost of their education.
But a second, often overlooked and perhaps unintentional consequence of the Irish Fest Camden is the development of rapport between parents, between parents and faculty, and between both groups and our community. I watched it develop slowly last year as we prepared for the 1st Annual (optimistic, weren’t we?) festival and it came into full view this year. When parents, teachers, and community members are working together on a relatively complex project they get to know each other beyond the natural boundaries members of each group might have with one another. They become friends, and they can see strengths—and perhaps weaknesses, too—in each other. But whatever they learn about other people in the Irish Fest team binds them together. And that gives the school a stronger cohesiveness and better relationships in the community. This is a precious gift.
I’ll bet Michelangelo smiled when he viewed the completed ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and Henry Ford did the same when his cars started rolling off the assembly line he designed. I could go on for pages with examples but I’ll spare you because you probably get the point. I’m betting that the members of the Irish Fest team went home tired but satisfied in the way that only hard work that produces great success can do. This—another unintended consequence—propels us all.
We celebrated the Irish (latin: “Hibernians”) on Saturday and we had fun with being members of the “O’Staff” and wearing shirts that might say “Kiss me, I’m Irish.” Those of us who have a bit of Irish in them had fun celebrating the culture of their ancestors. Fun being the operative word: the Irish people I know take their heritage in good fun, and few actually believe in Leprechauns. And the rest of us had fun with them.
We’re already planning for the 3rd Annual. If you enjoyed the 2nd Irish Fest Camden, please consider raising your hand to work for the next one as well. No need to wait for the call in the late fall. Send me a message or write to Becki at firstname.lastname@example.org and get ready for some real work, but the acute pleasure of giving some great rewards to the community, the school, and to you.