March 12, 2021 Message to Members
I decided late in grade 12 that I would be a teacher, and a high school English teacher at that. Credit for this decision belongs to my English 12 teacher, but that’s another story that you can find in the June 2020 Principl(ed) magazine. In addition to inspiration provided by my teacher, there was the attraction of the texts: the prospect of reading all those wonderful stories – classic and contemporary – and spending time with students talking about the characters, the themes, and the imagery drew me to the profession. I was also pumped about spending my days with kids: lots of kids. I provide this context to explain why Shakespeare automatically comes to mind at this time of year.
While it isn’t my favourite of the Bard’s plays – I much prefer Macbeth or The Tempest – my mind immediately summons forth that familiar line of the Soothsayer in Julius Caesar: “Beware the ides of March.” The line is a warning of sorts, counselling Caesar to keep up his guard and beware. Of course, we know how things worked out for Caesar in this, the third month of the year. And, thanks to Shakespeare, the middle days of March are often associated with “dark and gloomy connotation”.
Sadly, in our modern context, the ides of March has arrived with shades of gloom. It was on March 9th, 2020, that the first Canadian death in connection to COVID-19 occurred: he was an elderly man living in BC who has not been publicly identified. And later, on March 12th, top health officials in BC discouraged all non-essential travel outside of our province. That was a Thursday, and I was seated in a restaurant, celebrating with a family whose son had just graduated. I remember the email from our superintendent appearing in my inbox, ‘suggesting’ that all staff reconsider any travel plans for the break ahead, and I remember the face of my colleague across the table who was looking forward to time on a Mexican beach. She was reading her email, too.
Reaching further back, it was March 12, 2003, when the World Health Organization issued a worldwide health alert regarding an illness later called severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS. March 12th is also the 10th anniversary of the catastrophic Fukushima meltdown, which followed a tsunami born of an earthquake.
But I think the time has come to reject Bill’s spin on the ides of March, and to re-write the narrative as the ides of March has nothing to do with dark fate. The ides, along with nones, were ancient markers in the calendar used to reference dates in relation to lunar phases, particularly the full moon. Furthermore, the ides of March once signified a new year and was marked by joyous celebrations. So: let’s do some celebrating!
For hockey fans, on this day in 1966, The Golden Jet Bobby Hull scored his 51st goal of the season, setting a record!
On March 12, 1945, Governor Thomas E. Dewey signed into law the Ives-Quinn Anti-Discrimination Bill, making New York the first state to adopt legislation that would oppose employment discrimination based on race, religion, or creed.
In a week that also opened with International Women’s Day, on March 12th, 1993, Janet Reno was sworn in as U.S. attorney general, becoming the first woman to hold this office.
On this day in 1930, Mahatma Gandhi began the Salt March, a 390 kilometer, 24 day, non-violent act of civil disobedience which gained world-wide attention and gave impetus to the independence movement in India.
It was March 12th, 1964, when Toronto abolished the 114-year-old law which segregated students into white and black schools.
On this day in March of 1982, American playwright Charles Fuller won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for A Soldier’s Play, which tells the story of a Black captain’s search for the murderer of a Black sergeant on a Louisiana army base during World War II.
And on March 12th, 2007, The Ronettes and Van Halen were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame!
And on this day in 2021, most of the Principals and Vice-Principals of BC, along with their staffs and their students, will begin a much-deserved Spring Break. Despite reports of a stubborn curve in BC which resists bending toward lower case counts, and the ongoing travel restrictions, there is much optimism coming from our Provincial Health Office. Vaccinations, while meeting with challenges, are moving ahead; and there is hope that, soon, we can again enjoy each other’s company – even if it’s outside in the warming, open air. The tentative visions for September in schools are cautiously optimistic for a return to something more familiar. And, with our clocks springing ahead this weekend, our days will again be filled with more light. There are a number of school districts with one more week before the break, but it is there: in sight, and approaching.
My hope is that beginning this March 12, our school leaders can put the work aside and truly rest and recover during this break. It will be a quiet couple of weeks at the BCPVPA office, too. ENews will return on April 2nd, when all our members are back in full swing for the fastest month of the school year: AprilMayJune! While I will take some time with my own family during this time, please know that I am here if you need to connect.
With a year behind us, “What’s past is prologue,” and we are poised in anticipation of what lies ahead. “I wish you all the joy that you can wish”: the finest days ahead, the strength of understanding, and the connections to lift you and see you through. And now, when I glance backward on this day in March, my mind will instead summon forth Miranda’s words from The Tempest – “How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is!”