I need to tell you about my city. It is the city I pastor.
It is not the city where I pastor. It is the city I pastor. And it’s a great one. I call myself their biggest cheerleader. I LOVE this city!
Columbia Heights, MN is an inner ring suburb, which means it has “issues.” One of the reasons I love my city is they decided to meet those “issues” head on and not act like change was happening. As a result, we have an incredibly diverse area that works hard to acknowledge the challenges and is learning to embrace each other.
My youngest son is getting ready to graduate from the high school this week. All three of our boys are now Columbia Heights High School graduates. Their school system is about as evenly divided ethnically as I’ve seen any district… and the kids cheer for each other. It has its challenges, but again, they decided long ago to face those challenges.
It is a school that challenges kids to do well. And it is a school that embraces the arts. Raising three boys I thought I was destined for the ball fields to watch games. My oldest was athletic. My middle son became an actor. My youngest was on the tech side of productions. Over the past 5-6 years I have become a theater guy. Who knew?
Last night we went to the Spotlight Awards for the Hennepin Theatre Trust. (It is “theatRE” not “theatER.” We do things properly in Minneapolis!)
The Twin Cities has a vibrant arts presence and has world class theaters. (I have to go with the American spelling unless is it’s in that name. Sorry. I’m not THAT cultured!) The Hennepin Theatre Trust runs four fabulous theaters in Minneapolis and they boost the arts scene by having high schools compete in the Spotlight Awards. Each production is graded on its own merits, so small budget schools (like ours) don’t get embarrassed by “losing” to big budget schools.
Our school has been in the Spotlight Awards for about 4-5 years. This year their production of “Hairspray” garnered 22 awards. It was so amazing to see our kids sing and dance on stage with amazingly talented students from across the Twin Cities and state. Our school was featured TWICE (once in video and then in a specific recognition time) for the work the kids did in reaching out to the community through their production this year.
In a school system and city where there are still “issues,” these are the things we need to celebrate. I think many people who take “issue” with the changing dynamics of our demographics have no idea as to what incredibly great things are going on in our schools. And I want to tell them. I want to tell EVERY ONE OF THEM.
I want to tell you about my city! I want to BRAG on my city. It is an incredible place and more people need to know about it.