Last night the organizers of M.A.E. put on a wonderful “Pub Night” event at the Shark Club in Richmond. Kudos to Martin, Nicky and Natasha from the class of 2005! It was a great experience and treat to see, chat, and connect with everyone who was able to attend. The original goals of the McNair Mini School were to give students and families in the McNair catchment another option for their educational experience, to create a unique sense of family, and to “push the envelope.” The thing that stuck out the most last night was the sense of family. While in the program, social barriers broken down. Students cared for one another. The event, supposedly a “pub night”, felt more like a family reunion. Generations were present in older and younger grads, and old teachers. McCormick and Cartwright were there, the original creators of the program, who broke ground in 1996. Upon walking in, there truly was a “chemical” feeling of belonging to a family that shared up to 5 years at McNair, 15 outdoor trips, 5 Christmas Potlucks, 5 Arts Nights, 1 Science Fair, 1 Night of the Notables, and 1 trip to the Salvation Army Soup Kitchen. Yup, a chemical feeling of belonging to a movement that was bigger than any one person in attendance. I really don’t know how else to describe it. There were grads from as far back as the class of 2003 in attendance!
As the night went on, stories of the past were shared along with talk about current situations and forecasts for the future. Although all the students had the similar cohort-based secondary school experience, the entire world really has become their oyster. Some of the grads….
travellers!!! (UK, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Central America, India, China) in/finishing school, in medical school, completing a Ph.D in Geophysics, joined the workforce as lawyers/consultants/accountants/graphic designers/actors/TEACHER IN THE MINI SCHOOL/entrepreneurs, worked and working abroad, MARRIED or soon to be (some to other Mini Schooler’s!), PARENTS!, on Richmond’s 30 Under 30 List, Leaders in the community…. and the list goes on.
What a truly wonderful experience. In some careers, there are more immediate results. As an educator, the results often come after a number of years. It was well worth the wait and I can’t wait till the next event. Hopefully more grads and teachers can come out and do a little, or a lot, of reminiscing. As for the family angle, it doesn’t really matter where you meet, it is who you meet with and I realize that the connection will be there forever.