Forensics Club, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and Fancy Plants

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[From Mary]

Good day all. Thought it might be time I shared in some blogging duties. 

Funny thing is once I sit behind the keyboard I got nothing to say...



Didley squat...


Well, actually, I do have a few events that may be worthy of your time. Last year, when my place of employment merged, I "inherited" the position of Forensics coach. That is really interesting mostly because I didn't have the slightest idea what it entailed, other than it actually means 'speech club, and not 'CSI Mother Teresa Regional Catholic'. I must admit I was a little less than enthusiastic. After all, this is my second year teaching all new subjects. Kids, I'm tired. 

UNTIL NOW!!!!! DRUM ROLL PLEASE!!!!!! The first competition for the Forensics Club was held at St. Joseph Preparatory School in West Philly (hold the terror-filled screams ya'll. The parking lot had a security gate and guard). With students and parents in tow, we made it safely to what some call "Little Lebanon" (Not because it houses lots of Lebanese but because it resembles a war zone!). And there, after months of work, two of my students made it to semi-finals in our very first competition! These beautiful and brilliant girls made it there through sheer exuberance, and I was just in awe of their energy and focus. See photos from our visit here

I wanted to share something else. I love this city. Here I stood in a Jesuit prep school where affluent, hard working young men are pushed to make a difference in this world. If the young men who ran the program are any indication, the prep is doing an excellent job. They were impressive, to say the least. Established in what once was a thriving bustling area in 1866, this Catholic church and school was one of many going up left and right despite the attacks from the Know-Nothing party throughout the 1850's. With Irish pouring into the city, St. John Neumann oversaw the explosion of Catholicism as well as safely steering it through violence and destruction aimed at the Catholics and Irish. 

Just next to the prep is Girard College. The history of Girard College and its founder, Stephen Girard, just simply makes me weepy. This industrious French immigrant came to our city in 1776 (oh yeah, the big year) and amassed a huge fortune. In fact, he became the wealthiest American of his time! He had his hands in everything, from organizing the infamous Bush Hill Hospital during the yellow-fever epidemic of 1793 to becoming the first private banker in the U.S. He even helped to fund the War of 1812. As he had no heirs, he invested his fortune in the future, starting the school for orphans who would have little opportunity without help. It is still running today from the foundation he laid. He chose that location as it was near the then innovative Eastern State Penitentiary (focusing on humane incarceration) and a hospital devoted to the mentally ill. Phillie was the "it" place back in the day!

Man, that's just why I love this city. I just feel its story. I can see those immigrants, the free blacks, Ben and Johnny Neumann and Mr. Girard. I can see them all making their way down Broad and Girard and Market. I can see Frank Rizzo and Nicki Scarfo and our countless "notorious" standing around and making trouble. The art and artists. The museums. The food. I just can't help myself..... I just love this town.

Before I sign off, I hope you enjoy these photos and little clip of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. My dear Emily and I joined our lovely friends, Miranda, Lucy, and Isaac, on Saturday evening for a wonderful concert at Longwood Gardens. You may remember them from Paul Simon's terrific album "Graceland". Just a note, the gorgeous, tall young man on the far left is the front man's youngest son. 

I hope we chat soon,