At Regis Jesuit High School I fluctuate between being an educator, a chaperone, a stage manager, an assistant and a security guard. (Kind of. I sit at the front door during lunch and make sure visitors sign in). The role I enjoy the most, though, is being a witness. Here’s what I mean.
Today, I witnessed a girl buy two packets of cookies from the cafeteria, warm them gently, then eat them with a side of mini-marshmallows.
In the hall, I witnessed a tall upperclassmen screech, “HELLO LOVE OF MY LIFE!” to a friend, then throw her arms around that girl with the kind of reckless abandon that’s usually reserved for making belly flops into the pool.
And after school while supervising a study session, I witnessed a senior confidently make her rounds to groups of scared freshmen assuring them that, despite how baffling slope-intercept form may be, they’ll be okay.
There’s a lot to see here. The halls are flurries of activity, my classroom is full of the kind of buoyant energy that can only be produced by 14 year old girls, and the line for lunch when Chic-fil-A is served visibly palpitates in anticipation.
It’s a busy place, and the hurriedness of the high school has given me a gift I didn’t fully anticipate when I decided to be a member of the Alum Service Corps. Here, it is easy to lose my own self-interest and get lost in the interests of others. Because when a fifteen year old tells you about her desire to get her mother to buy her tickets to Taylor Swift there is no need of mine, no fatigue or hunger or stress that can stand in the way of her earnestness.
There is beauty in the mayhem, and I have joy to see it. Through my students’ daily acts of kindness, hope, bravery, affection and fragility, I am reminded that here I am not only a volunteer, I am a witness to a wonderful world. For that, I am grateful.