I wish everyone could experience a ribbon cutting at KIPP. Such gratitude. Such thankfulness. These feelings filled the room today as we celebrated the opening of our 23rd and 24th schools, KIPP Unity and KIPP Academy West. Myself and the Marketing and Development team were there as shepherds with the task of celebrating and acknowledging the hard work done by so many people.
Planners, designers, engineers, business people, city administrators, construction companies, road companies, educators, teachers, parents...all of this so that our children can shine, can learn, can grow in a healthy, productive, high-achieving, accepting, welcoming environment.
One could write an entire book on the number of personal interactions and moments that took place in that short period of time. Two kindergarteners were our greeters, welcoming each person, and handing them a program and ribbon cutting scissors. A team of 5th graders were the ambassadors responsible for welcoming each person as he or she arrived, walking with them almost 100 yards to the cafeteria. The 5th graders were taught to engage each guest in conversation, introduce themselves, and talk about college aspirations. They asked their guest questions about themselves, where they went to college, and what they do for a living. These children were amazing. We tightened our ties. We straightened our shirts. We stood up straight. Our guests were coming.
The ceremony was truly moving. School leaders led the entire student body through affirmations, songs, and activities. In unison, the entire 5th grade chanted, "Read, Baby, Read," filling the room with their spirit, power, and confidence. The tiniest of students also performed with such power.
We heard speeches from State Representative Rick Miller, City Councilmember Richard Nguyen, Sehba Ali, Mike Feinberg, and Ken Goedekke.
After the ribbon cutting, the ambassador team of 5th graders wanted to keep helping. We went back to the front to thank everyone for coming. Mike talked with our ambassadors about being thankful. "Show them how much it means, do a great job, learn everything, go to college, and make this world better.”
The City Councilmember caught my attention when he spoke. His daughter is enrolled at KIPP SHINE Prep. He said very few words but made a large impact, “You know, when I get old, we will depend on YOU, on you to take care of things.”
Big KIPPSters, we are depending on you today, every day. We are depending on you to build the strong foundation, to set the example, to inspire, to train, to listen, to lead our children, to excellence so that we can all continue to build a better world.
Little KIPPsters, one day, you will be taking care of things. We are depending on YOU!
Guest Blog by Kathryn Huntsman, Grants Coordinator for KIPP Houston Public Schools