Today we held our annual coronation of “Mr. and Miss Union” to honor students selected by their peers and teachers who stand out as leaders in the classroom and beyond. In the spirit of transparency, there are aspects about this tradition that pain me a little, as all superlatives do. But, there were two moments that brought me to tears today during our ceremony:
1. Last year’s Mr. Union spoke to the student body and encouraged them to make friends with people who don’t look like them or think like them. He promised our kids that they would be better people for this choice. I had this incredible young man in class for two years, and I knew he was speaking with the utmost sincerity. That same plea–that desire for others to get to know people not like them–is exactly what I pray over my kid every night. Hearing it come from a teenager gave me hope that maybe my son would value this from a young age, too.
2. Our crowned queen today is African American; our crowned king is openly gay. I cried over not just how diverse our campus is, but how much we love our diversity. How proud we are of our differences. And, I hope that that pride comes from the fact that we really do believe what last year’s Mr. Union was saying: that we know the importance of getting to know people not quite like us. That we believe these relationships make us better people. That fear has no place in our hallways, but that love and acceptance and tolerance will always abound. Always.