Thursday, May 29, 2014

My Strange Convergence with Three Seemingly Random Video Clips

This is not a typical blog. Instead, I hope it will be entertaining account of the way in which three seemingly random video clips recently came to my attention, and how each of the three was strangely--and in very different ways--all related to Gaston Day School. Several weekends ago (April 20), a Gaston Day School parent emailed me the link to an electronic Gazette article with video attached that she thought might be of interest to me because it was about my hometown, Mt. Holly. I had missed the article which was about the recent discovery of a newsreel film of everyday life in Mt. Holly from the 1930s. During that time, a local filmmaker from Lexington, NC, travelled from small town to small town in North and South Carolina filming local citizens in their daily routines. He then would show his piece in the local theater and charge 5 cents a ticket. This is how he made his living, and one of his stops was Mt. Holly.

The film was recently discovered in the Mt. Holly Historical Society Archives and in very bad shape. Only a small portion of its 15 minutes was viewable. Duke University is restoring the rest. The web address to the viewable segment of the video was embedded in the electronic article. Obviously interested, I clicked to watch it.

As the film began, I wondered if I might see someone I knew. My father's family is from the Mt. Holly area for many generations. The end of the film footage was of the Mt. Holly High School football team--both shots of them practicing and assembled together as a team and posing. As the film panned across the group of young, sweaty, smiling boys, there was my fifteen-year old father, smiling, waving his hand, and pointing his finger in the air emphatically and dramatically. To my eyes, he was beautiful--youthful, happy, and alive. He died almost six years ago, and I had been thinking about him more than usual because April 21 is his birthday. At this writing, I guess I have viewed the film of him at least twenty times. Every time a wave of joy washes over me. Receiving the video seems like a mysterious gift.

After viewing the clip of my Dad for the first time, I noticed that it was linked to two other Gazette videos. The first was a film of Forestview High School's Taylor Hampton playing the xylophone. It accompanied an article about her recent acceptance into the highly prestigious Julliard School of Music. The video clip showed Taylor's incredible dexterity and musicianship, and I watched it with great satisfaction and pride. Taylor learned so much of her musical knowledge under the tutelage of Rick Fischer while she was a student at Gaston Day for her first eight years of school. She transferred to Forestview several years back and has continued to grow there as a musician. The article made only one small mention of Gaston Day School. But I watched her and knew that Gaston Day, and Rick Fischer in particular, had helped shape her in formative ways. I am so happy for Taylor!!

The third video clip was taken at the Run for the Money Race and Event. Because I attended the Run, I wanted to see what was captured on film. There was Upper Schooler Kiernan Hodnett doing a line dance and Director of Instructional Technology Kim Schneider running in the race. Other Gaston Day student, visible only because of their Gaston Day t-shirts, also flashed across the screen. Last year, the school had more runners and walkers than any other organization. This year, I think we had second most. Again, it made me proud to think about the ways in which school members support this community.

These three video clips were the only three featured on the Gazette website. Was it an accident that all three were tied to Gaston Day? The last two most directly. But even the first through me and the parent who sent it to me. I don't think so. When something vital, exciting or important happens in Gastonia, Gaston County, Lake Wylie, or the surrounding area, often there is a connection to Gaston Day. This school is a part of the fabric of this community. We should celebrate what a difference we are making.