The first time I heard the words Madison Square Garden was in 1981 when Ivan Lendl and Vitas Gerulaitis played the final of the tennis masters there. I remember watching the match on TV late into the night at my grandparents’ house. A passion for tennis was born—or as Andria would put it “a passion for all televised sport.” Basketball fans might consider it a heresy, but last Saturday, while the Falcons were waiting anxiously in the tunnel, I thought of that night in 1981 and of that little boy in France jumping around the living room and burying his face in the cushions because he couldn’t stand the suspense of the tiebreaks.
I don’t write to you about sport very often and yet we have experienced some beautiful sporting moments this year: the return of Middle School sport classes at Baruch college—something we hope our oldest Elementary students will be able to do next year too, the renaissance of the Falcons at the start of the year—attracting more and more students as the months pass—18 of them took part in yesterday’s victory against Basis Manhattan in a doubleheader that also saw them play against Brooklyn International School. Well done to the Falcons and Coach Soden, and thanks to the chaperones, Fawzia and Andria, and to the parent supporters. These matches have become so important that our weekly executive meeting—when I stuff myself silly on Pims—was rescheduled to tonight so that Laurence could attend yesterday’s fixture.
Of course, the soccer World Cup was also a magnificent moment for our school community. The last-minute decision to allow our older students to watch France’s opening game against Australia was much appreciated and the whole building shook during the semi-final against Morocco. Sport’s great strength lies in its ability to forge unforgettable memories.
As educators, we are reluctant to admit that in a few years’ time, our students might not remember the subjunctive mode of the verbs in the 3rd group, the names of the Greek Gods, or the workings of Thalès theorem. But we’d wager a bet that they’ll remember their night at Madison Square Garden, their first steps on a court, the emotions they experienced watching a soccer match with their classmates—personally, I am never going to forget the student that came to thank me afterward, telling me with tears in their eyes that it was the best day of their life.
One of my daily objectives is to make The École, just like sport, a memory-making machine. My aim is to give the teachers the possibility to create and/or participate in projects that will enable us to experience precious moments together. In the coming months, some of our students and staff will be heading to Costa Rica and others to Quebec—to play in a rugby and frisbee tournament—others will be among the 1000’s of students taking part in the Nuit du c0de, while others still will be preparing a fashion project and show.
Last Saturday, at Madison Square Garden, in front of 151 parents, students, and teachers from The École and thousands of spectators who came to see The Knicks vs. The Clippers, the Falcons put on a great show and we were so proud to watch them play basketball and also build memories that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. The 9-year-old boy who watched TV in his grandparents’ house would like to thank them from the bottom of his heart.