Every year, this week is one of the busiest of my teaching year. It’s right up there with report writing in terms of stress, but it’s much more enjoyable.
It’s Production Week.
I’m the director/producer of my school’s musical each year, and this is the week where we hit the stage and everyone is wowed by the students’ performances.
The weeks leading up to the show have been demanding. There has been fear, elation, exhaustion, laryngitis, delight, and excitement in fairly equal proportions. Even so, there has been an overriding confidence – at least, most of the time – that the show would be great.
In every show we do, the kids are always amazing, and I’m always proud.
But during the first performance of ‘Les Miserables – School Edition’ last Friday night, I was so proud that I cried. For someone who doesn’t cry much, that says a lot.
It’s wonderful to be able to honestly say that the show was spectacular.
In saying that, I don’t mean to brag. This has been a group effort by singers, actors, orchestra, sound and lighting crew, set construction teams, backstage crew, parents sewing costumes, hair & makeup teams, vocal coaches, musical director and myself. A show like this doesn’t happen without every part of the machine running.
Most of you reading this won’t get a chance to see the show, so here’s a little article from today’s Warrnambool Standard, complete with a totally-unrehearsed-for video that shows you how talented, and how delightfully funny, my students are.
Occasionally I experience the discomfort of hearing people laugh, or at least smirk, at the town I live in because it’s small, rural, and offers less than the bigger cities.
It’s not surprising that this gets my hackles up.
Our little town of 1800 people has more to offer than most people realise.
We have doctors. We have our own pharmacy, fully stocked hardware store that also sells building supplies and pet supplies, and a newsagent/stationer that also sells lottery tickets, toys and gifts.
We have two boutique gift stores, a clothing store, lawyers and accountants, and a fantastic hairdresser.
We have a large supermarket, two banks, a top notch bakery, a cafe, an Asian dine in/takeaway restaurant, two other places for “fast food”, a real estate agent, a laundromat, and a butcher,
You can buy furniture, flooring, curtains, bedding and upholstery supplies.
There are two places to get fuel or and three where you can get service for your car. There’s a place that sells tools, trailers, and automotive/engineering supplies. You can get your tyres changed and your wheels aligned and balanced at three different places in town.
And that’s not even starting on the number of plumbers, electricians, and other tradies around.
There’s a pub for getting a drink or a good meal, or hosting a party or event in. There are also two rather lovely bed&breakfast establishments.
We’ve got a miniature railway, an historical dairy park, a go-kart racing track, a skate park, and a dam for fishing in, complete with geese and ducks. There are two big parks to play in. There’s a golf course, and a golf club that serves great meals and drinks.
We’ve got a footy/cricket oval, tennis courts and netball courts. The footy team go alright, and win their share of games and finals matches. We’ve also got both an outdoor and an indoor swimming pool!
We have a police station, and police officers who are active and involved in the community in positive and proactive ways. They’re helpful when you need them, they work to keep us all safe, and we don’t have to live in fear of harassment or prejudice. In fact, I don’t think there’s ever been a police shooting in this town.
The schools here are full of kids. Really full. There’s no danger of the schools being closed, or teachers being out of work.
We’re only ten minutes away from an excellent hospital, and 45 away from a really big one with all the fancy bits and pieces.
We have people of varying faiths and ethnic backgrounds, living in harmony with one another. Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, atheists, agnostics, JWs and whatever other faiths exist here, all get along just fine, because we’re neighbours and that’s the way it’s meant to be.
People greet each other in the street, and say hello, and wave as they drive past. When someone is in need of help, they get helped. Our healthy collection of churches and service clubs make sure of that.
And we have Christmas music playing in the street – not just Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph, either. They play songs about the birth of Jesus, and the wonder of God’s love for the world. It’s true that “Winter Wonderland” was slightly out of place in yesterday’s summer temperatures, but I know I’m not the only one who yearns to be back in a place they love where it is winter at the moment, or who is, in reality, dreaming of a white Christmas.
Christmas is celebrated in town with activities in the local park, followed by Carols by Candlelight, where hundreds of people gather to sing and celebrate together, on the Sunday evening before Christmas.
We also have Easter celebrations where the churches in town join together and worship Christ as Saviour in public, and plant a cross in the park to remind people that the true meaning of Christmas is actually Easter.
We also celebrate Spring with a big town festival, including parades, art exhibitions, rubber duck races on the dam, and lots of other merriment.
Nobody is offended. Nobody hates on others because they don’t agree. People just keep on smiling, and waving, and saying hello, because that’s what we do.
This town should be the envy of anyone who lives in a place where even one of those things doesn’t happen.
On top of all that, we’ve got fresh air, beautiful farmland scenery, rivers and creeks, and the amazing Great Ocean Road and beaches galore within an hour’s drive.
People shouldn’t be knocking my town. They’re just jealous and don’t even realise it.