Monday, May 4, 2009

How Celia saved Poughkeepsie from Colombine

From my hotmail archives, dated April 20. Jenna Bauer writes from Poughkeepsie:

As part of her visit/residency at the campus in Poughkeepsie, NY, Celia was scheduled to play this Monday morning in the meeting room of Oakwood Friends School during a study break from 10:25 until 10:55 a.m. Students had the option of coming to listen to her play - it was unclear how many students would attend.

She and I walked to the meeting room around 9:55 a.m. We noticed police cars on campus.

As we were setting up her merch, the dean of students came to us and told us that there was a "situation", and that all the students, including the middle school, would be on their way to the meeting room shortly.

Apparently, the police had arrived on campus and notified administration at Oakwood that two teenagers were seen getting out of a minivan down the street from the school with duffel bags that suspiciously looked as if they contained firearms.

(Keeping in mind that it's the 10th year of the high school shootings at Columbine.)

All 200 students, staff and faculty were told to come to the meeting room immediately for "security reasons". Meanwhile, police were at the entrances of the campus and building, and maintenance was scanning the grounds.

Students and faculty were clearly concerned and upset at this sudden and mysterious security measure. However, a woman from administration explained that we were all safe, and after a few other annoucements, I was able to introduce Celia.

There was an intense energy in the room - so many questions, a lot of concern, yet Celia rose to the occasion and kept the kids' and our adult minds off of what was a unknown and potentially bad situation for 25 minutes.

Eventually, an adminstrator approached me and asked if Celia could keep playing for the students (and their teachers). I said, "Of course she can!" I let Celia know about the request and she contintued to entertain.

She took a student's request for "I Love Myself" and my request for "You Just Gave Your Love Away". She played "Curly Hair", "Ghost Riders", "Big Brother" and several others. These high school students were way into it.

Eventually, eight or so administrators walked in, smiling. It's an understatement to say that everyone in the room was falling over to hear an explaination for what was going on.

Anna Bertucci, the head of the upper school, explained that the administrators had been in constant contact with the police, and the suspects were discovered to have air rifles in the bag. The campus and surrounding areas had been searched and deemed safe.

The timing of Celia's informal entertainment and this security measure - one that confined the entire school to the meeting room - is and will remain priceless and impossible to forget.

Celia came to our rescue ...

I thought you'd appreciate this story, and I also thought you would appreciate this photo of Celia's costume for this morning's performance. She spraypainted this outfit, a la SCOSAG style, during our Spring Forward Momentum Retreat on Saturday.

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