Weekly, the Opal School elementary community starts its day with a community gathering. It’s a time when all four classes, along with many family members, come together in the theater to sing some songs and hear about what new ideas are sparking.
The Cottonwood Community of kindergartners and first-graders led this week’s gathering. They sang a song they’re writing about the “Friendship Tree” idea they’ve been exploring. Sarah explained that there are diverse ideas about this phenomenon: Some children believe that love is magically pouring out of the tree, while others propose that it’s the way in which they relate to the tree that is forging those bonds of friendship.
As is often the case at these community gatherings, the class asked the larger group if others had questions for them to clarify or deepen their ideas.
When a parent asked where the idea of the Friendship Tree came from, a child responded,
We were thinking about friendship in our community.
At Opal, we spend a lot of time with trees.
So, we knew there needed to be a friendship tree.
A pretty simple mathematical formula. Children are constant innovators – always building and creating – and yet what they create is going to be reflective of where they are and the questions they are asked, of the larger environment.
When another person asked Why do you need the friendship tree, almost every child’s hand went up.
One child responded,
So if anyone feels sad –
or if one of their friendship lights go out –
we can go to the Friendship Tree to fix it.
Because if lights go out, we want to fix it.
Children know a lot about pain. They want to be a part of healing it. Wonderful that they get to explore and respond to that with metaphor and song and each other.