It is amazing the heights and depths that are possible for the human hands. This weekend as we continued to stay tuned to the latest in hurricane news, praying for those effected, we as a family prepared to celebrate an accomplishment on Saturday. Daniel was getting an award.
But friday night news spread that a student at Daniel's high school was murdered at the football game. Six girls apparently ganged up on one with a baseball bat, a knife, and ultimately ran her over with a car. None of these girls were actually students from Blake, but that was little comfort. Just considering such a violent act made me sick. For me high school football games were times to hang out with friends and play my horn (I was in the marching band). High drama consisted of who was breaking up with who, or maybe at its extreme, who was having sex with who. No longer. I was relieved that Daniel has never been interested in going to the football games or the dances. Now I know why. Things have changed.
And as we got in the car Saturday morning to go to the award ceremony I couldn't help reflect on the incremental actions that when all assembled display a life well spent (or not). Choices made can either nurture life or take it away.
Back in may Daniel competed for a Maryland Distinguished Scholars Award. It is a monetary award that encourages students to stay in their home state of Maryland to attend college. 3000.00 a year for four years if the winner keeps up their grades. Reality is that with the cost of college this was a drop in the bucket, but the honor was more significant. 4500 students applied in the academic category and 710 applied in the talent in the arts category. You have to be nominated to even apply and Daniel was. For him it was in the visual arts category.
So back in may we went to the "audition" which for him was a review of his portfolio and an interview. Students from all over the state gathered to show their stuff. Competition was stiff and while Daniel went into a room with a panel of judges, Bryan and I waited with all the other parents wondering, what if. I marveled at how some parents were primping their soprano daughters, or pep talking their sons, all dressed to the nines of course. Suits and ties. Nerves blazing.
I had to wonder what the judges thought as he calmly strode into the room wearing bell-bottom-zipper-laden-torn-to-shreds jeans, a cirque du soleil t-shirt, and his hair in a bun with chop sticks. Of course maybe the look helped, although I know for Daniel that didn't even cross his mind. He wasn't dressed to impress. He was there with his art, for his art. Nuf said.
Of course after the interview I wanted to know all the details but would have to settle with a cryptic response of how it went until we received news in august.
In august the letter came. He had been selected. 350 total, out of that 85 in the talent category, out of that 27 were visual artists.
Who'd a thought.
So Saturday we went to Bowie State University to sit through some speeches that recognized the winners. They also had the visual arts winners exhibit their work.
During the exhibit Bryan and I found a vantage point to spy on our son as he stood with his work and discussed it with interested viewers. A proud moment for mom and dad. Later, in the auditorium, as he was asked to stand with all the other winners, I had to hold my breath. More pride.
And I thought of the murdered girl.
How is it we can have such a spectrum in the same society? Accomplishment and violence in the same education system? It seems impossible.
And as I listened to the the applause for the winners, sitting next to Daniel looking up at him as he stood there, (this time with his hair in a bun, various colored hair wraps with silver trinkets hanging from them) the moment slowed down and caught in time for me. It was one of those visual snapshots that becomes a memory.
Congratulations Daniel. We are so proud of you.