By Leslie France Patterson
I made a cool connection this week: Cornerstone and my son Oscar were born the same year: 1999. Oscar entered Miss Patty’s kindergarten class in 2004, and since then I’ve had the privilege of watching my son and his school grow, hit important milestones, and make remarkable changes. He’s now in 8th grade and will be graduating next spring, headed for new challenges in high school. I can’t help but feel that our school has earned a right of passage of its own and is ready to reach new heights in fulfilling its mission, especially when I reflect on all that our community has accomplished since my family arrived.
In 2004, when the school was still very young, Miss Patty was teaching my son and his classmates methods for peaceful conflict resolution, while older CLC students and their teachers were participating in a demonstration in front of the capitol to save Joe Budd from disastrous funding cuts. I was awed to see Cornerstone so boldly establish a commitment to social justice.
While Mr. Jason’s 4th graders were out planting trees at Birdsong in 2008, the Middle School students were putting in hours at both the McCain and Obama headquarters, and thus embracing our commitment to a broad definition of diversity. Meanwhile, back at school, we committed to green technology by adding solar panels and acquiring school busses that operate on bio-fuel.
And maybe one of our most important steps toward our school’s maturity came at the same time that our 5th graders were publishing a video to raise money for Haiti after the horrific earthquake in 2009 – we launched the Annual Fund. I’ve come to see our Annual Fund as an important milestone of growth because it enables us to find bigger and bolder ways to meet our mission. I give because I believe in our mission, and I’ve come to see how it informs every new hire, program, field trip, acquisition, and curriculum choice we make at Cornerstone.
After nine years here at CLC, it’s clear to me that our mission lives in our children. When I hear Oscar patiently explaining to my 85 year-old mother, who recently had a stroke, how Google Maps works, reassuring her that we will arrive to our destination on time, I see Cornerstone. I see Cornerstone when he, as a matter of course, designates a trashcan next to his homework area specifically for recycling papers. And I see Cornerstone when I hear the excited little voice of a former reading buddy calling from the East House porch, “Hi Oscar!”
I’m certainly proud of the qualities my 8th grader has developed at Cornerstone. But I’m also proud to have been a part of the growth of our school, and to have shared in the opportunity to build a learning community that will contribute to the “body, mind and spirit” of children for many years to come.