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Parkland High School Confidential: A way for Mr. Russell to share about the culture of Parkland.

Parkland High School Confidential: Fly Me to the Moon


It is finally the spring at Parkland Secondary. If I were Frank Sintra, I would be saying, “Let me see what spring is like on Jupiter or Mars or Parkland.” I mean a normal spring. For the first time since March 2019, we are gathering as a school and celebrating students and life. We even had our first Talent Show at lunch this week. And the talent showed up. 

Mr. Young put together a well-planned display of talented young people willing to sing, dance or perform in front of their peers. That takes courage, especially considering that we haven’t asked students to take these kinds of risks in two years.  

So what kind of talent shows up in 2022 after this extended absence of large group gatherings? Performances included hip hop dance, beatboxing, Indie duets, pop songs, and bad dad jokes. Each flowed easily into the next performance while our MC charmed the crowd between acts.

As a principal, I knew that Mr. Young had vetted the acts and that they were appropriate, but my concern was how well will the audience behave? I mean, it has been a long time since we have asked them to sit respectfully in a large group of people for extended periods of time.  

As I took my place in the back of the theatre, I could easily scan the audience. At first, I could tell they were not sure what to expect. They chatted with friends as the performers got ready. Some were anxious, and lunch was usually their chance to move around, but most students settled quickly when Mr. Young handed the mic to our MC. I had to ask a few students not to talk and a couple to take their feet off the seats in front of them, but nothing major and each of those students quickly changed their behaviour.  

In the row in front of where I was standing, I could see that one student just needed to move. He wanted to take advantage of so many friends in one location. I could see him make eye contact with half a dozen people around the theatre and my spidey senses told me that he would take this opportunity to visit them all.  

As he got up to move, I quickly moved into his row and asked him to sit during the performances. He reluctantly settled into his seat, but he was respectful. I could tell he still needed to move, and he was working hard to be a good audience member.  

Then onto the stage came a band with a bass, trumpet, piano player and a lead singer. The young man in front of me was obviously a friend of the singer because he was struggling between yelling encouraging words and support, sitting still or telling his friends how unexpected and awesome this was going to be. When the band broke into a classic Franck Sintra song, ‘Fly Me to the Moon’, he moved to the edge of his seat. He kept turning to his friends with his mouth wide open and eyes sparkling bright with pride. And then, when the song ended with “I Love You,” he jumped to his feet to start the standing ovation and the outpouring of appreciation. Or in other words “Love.”  

The band and the young singer left the stage with huge smiles on their faces. I thought how cool it must feel to be a rock star, even for a few moments. Ok, maybe Frank Sinatra is not a rock star, but he is still cool in 2022.   

At Parkland, we are finally gathering in large groups and celebrating life again. Students are even listening to Baby Blue Eyes himself. And if you want to see what spring is like at Parkland, you just need to come to the school and spend some time with our students. “In other words, In other words,” it is pretty awesome!