Thursday, February 7, 2013

It Happened. I'm all Emotional about it, too.

So there's a school called Avalon Charter School in St. Paul. They are presently reading EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS as a group for the St. Paul #ReadBrave One book, One city event. Many of them entered a video to win the VIP pass onto the Born Brave Bus.

I can't embed the news stories here, so you will have to click these links to see them. This one is particularly awesome.

I didn't know about Avalon School until I started watching their #ReadBrave entries on their Facebook page. Here's one:

I didn't realize the school is a real shelter for students who have had bad experiences in other schools. It is a school of...tolerance.

Imagine that for a minute.
Imagine that in place of the nightmare stories out of Stubenville this year. (List all other schools with similar stories here. There are too many.)
Imagine a place of...tolerance.

Imagine a place where no one would drug a girl and shame her...with the okay from football coaches.
Imagine a place where none of the bystanders would allow this to happen.
Imagine a place where no one was looking to feel bigger while making other people smaller.

Imagine what a different group of human beings we would be if we all grew up in schools of...tolerance.
In families who taught...tolerance.
In countries who believed in...tolerance.

I know I'm mixing my subject matter here, but I'm me and if you know me, you know it's all connected in my mind. And really, am I really mixing subject matter? Isn't it all one big power trip? One of the faculty at Avalon asked me during a Skype visit last week why I wrote EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS and I answered something like this: We live in a bully culture, we live in a rape culture and we live in a war culture. Why wouldn't I write a book like this?

Finding a school like Avalon and watching the news stories that surrounded the Lady Gaga concert last night and the kids who won the VIP passes and even some free tickets made me cry. (Vulcan tears burn the skin.) To be any part of this is overwhelming and makes me feel...I don't know. Makes me feel like I'm doing what I came here to do.

Like. On Earth.
That's some pretty big stuff.

None of this would have been possible, not for me, for those students, and not for Avalon school if it wasn't for....drumroll please....a librarian named Marika Staloch. (I know Marika would want me to say that it's more than just her. She would want me to say that there are other awesome librarians who are involved. Librarians are often humble and, you know...tolerant.)

When people talk about budget cuts and how libraries don't really do anything I wish I could introduce them to the librarians I know who are out there in the community making amazing things happen for students and adults in their communities. Sometimes I'm pretty sure that those people talking about cutting budgets for libraries...don't really go to the library or know what it does.

I was happy to see the St. Paul Library mentioned in this clip, because the community should know that their library is doing very awesome things.


So there it is. It happened.
I'm all emotional.
I can't wait to get to Avalon School in a few weeks.


Martina Boone said...

This is such a wonderful story! I worked with our county school division to get the Olweus bullying prevention program into all the elementary and middle schools. The statistics are so clear: teaching tolerance and fostering an environment where no one stands by while others bulky WORKS! It's brilliant to see this working at a grass roots level fueled by an author, a book, and a librarian. Bravo!

Elena said...

I'm an Avalon alum (and a librarian!), and unless the school has changed a lot since I graduated in 2005, it's more than a place of "tolerance," it's a place of acceptance, where people aren't merely not-bullied but are celebrated for who they are. It is an awesome school. I hope you enjoy your visit. :)

A.S. King said...

Indeed. Acceptance.

I think that's probably a better word all around.
Do you need a job writing my blogs for me? :)

A quote from a friend a half hour ago.

"Why is tolerance exceptional? Why is that NOT the norm? Why don't we go to these schools where rape crews with supportive faculty members are the norm and shut them down because they are *doing it wrong*? Why aren't all schools like Avalon?"

I thought that was a great question.