When I was young, I loved “dress-up” time. In my childhood, students in my classes loved to dress up as astronauts, cowboys, ballerinas, bakers, and heroes. The possibilities seemed endless, but what this playtime did was to help us to imagine ourselves as someone else, to see ourselves as capable of doing things other than we may have thought possible. I get a great deal of joy walking into some of our younger grades here at St. James and seeing students don the outfits of doctors or grocers, taking turns running a clinic or a store, letting their imaginations open up and explore some possibilities that might otherwise have been overlooked. These outfits can help us to live into the best that these costumes represent.
This is even why schools like St. James have uniforms. Aesthetics aside, a uniform helps to set a particular tone – we are here to be St. James students. We dress up to play and we dress up to work, as expressions not only of who we are, but what we aspire to be. I often hear students ask,”Why do you wear that black shirt and white collar?” Several students even believe I wear the same shirt every day (I assure you I do not.) The clerical shirt and collar not only helps people to identify me as a priest; it also helps me to remember the immense responsibility of this vocation – this costume helps me to aspire to being better at my work, and to remember that God walks with me.
The Soirée is an opportunity for folks in our school community to dress up a bit and imagine what we, as “Great Gatsbys” and “Daisies,” might do for this school – all in a spirit of fun and good company. When serious fun happens, dress-up is often a part of it! What a great topic to think about as we approach the big dress-up holiday of Halloween. While some in our world fear the evil themes and satanic imagery of the holiday, most of us recognize Halloween as a time to practice our resistance to forces of evil. We manage to be good people even when we dress as monsters!
On Friday, October 18th, the fifth grade dressed up in uniforms with their blazers. They were pinned with the shield of the school to remind them of their changing relationship with St. James Episcopal Day School. This dressing up reminds the fifth grade class of our expectations of them and our hopes for them. They now prepare to take all that they have learned in this place and carry it forward into new experiences. These clothes (the uniforms) help to indicate something about who they are and how they are called to live. They can be the best of what St. James has given them. Dressing up is serious play for all of us.
Fr. Michael Kuhn, Head of School