Most of Year 3 are making their first lantern. They may have been party to a family effort, but this is their chance to make one for themselves.
When asked why we make lanterns, the children proffered all kinds of reasons – New Year and God being but two. And then, a girl said
“We all have stars inside us and we can shine, like the lanterns”
and a boy chimed
“It’s about love”
and everyone agreed that it isn’t lovey-dovey love but the love of friends and family and everyone doing something together.
We were very busy: Anni Raw came to visit. It is difficult to have conversations with practitioners and children when the temptation is to join in the merry throng. On the other hand, joining in the merry throng makes for some great conversations! Clergy and staff from Stockton Parish Church arrived to make their lantern. Last year, they made a model of the church itself. Today, they began a rather grand cross. Parents were invited to come along and get their child out of class to help make their family lantern and a few have made the effort today. Amongst them are the Gosling-Buckinghams.
It was Dad’s only day off, and they spent it at school, with their son Jake. They made a big house, complete with chimney. It isn’t finished yet…
Another couple have five children, four in school. Mam came almost every day last year and this year her husband joined her. They came with the idea of making a mosque lantern and the notion that they would stay an hour or so. They stayed for four hours…
Sandra, a teaching assistant in school, told us of two boys who usually have one-to-one sessions in school. They were invited to come and make a lantern as a treat for their hard work. One of them, Stephen, aged 7, said
“What?! I’ve been waiting all my life to make a lantern!”
Stephen met up with Jake and they began to chat about the lanterns in the hall. Stephen commented
“That’s the Community Star. It’s a big light. If anyone gets lost, they can follow the light.”
Lisa and Alex, medical students on placement from Durham University joined the workshop and the next shift from Sure Start arrived and added more to their star. A parent and her sister came and made a heart lantern. Then, just when we thought it couldn’t get busier, a group of six women and their tutors from Stockton Riverside College walked in. They usually spend Wednesday afternoons learning English. Today, they made stars to symbolise their children’s dreams and wishes.
After school was quiet – another few family lanterns started whilst the mosque-building continued. Small children played in the creche corner, practised their masking-tape skills and then helped tidy up.
Sandra called me out to drop something of a bombshell. A parent had made some particularly negative comments on Facebook about the building of the mosque lantern. Other parents were very offended. So our day ended with a conversation with Sandra and the Head as to how best deal with the situation. And tomorrow will begin with a meeting with our core group of parents during which we will have an open, honest, and hopefully calm conversation.
It was a sad downturn, but we feel that if we don’t tackle it, we are not practicing what we preach…