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Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’ closes out school year

Depending on the world’s situation at the time, we’ve belted out Pink Floyd’s “School’s Out for Summer,” but at other times we needed to sing something more thoughtful, like Miss Bess’s lullaby to her baby.

JSSP Art Voices
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In past years getting through the school year was a relief … a huge sigh. But this year seems different. Kids really wanted to be in school and for the last three years, summer has not had the same impact. Instead of singing loud and clear, some kids may need a gentle tune instead. Think Gershwin.

Miss Clara, in the 1935 Boston opera, sang DuBose Heyward’s “Summertime” to her baby in George Gershwin’s Libretto, “Porgy and Bess.” Despite her situation, Bess tried to comfort her weeping son.

Depending on the world’s situation at the time, we’ve belted out Pink Floyd’s “School’s Out for Summer,” but at other times we needed to sing something more thoughtful, like Miss Bess’s lullaby to her baby. Our kids in 2022 may feel more nostalgia this year than in the past, and need a lullaby instead of Alice Cooper’s guttural blast from “Another Brick in the Wall.”

Yes, school’s out for 2022. For many students, they wish classes would keep going so they could see their friends. Rough time are easier shared. And it helps to know people survived even worse times.

In the years leading up to the production of “Porgy and Bess,” World War I was pending. From 1914 through 1918 the United States, along with 30 other countries, were involved in war. As WWI was ending, there was a flu outbreak in a Kansas military base (later termed “Spanish flu) that spread worldwide. That pandemic lasted beyond 1920. Then, the Great Depression hit banks and stock markets in 1928, lasting 10 years. In the late 1930s, World War II loomed. As WWII ended, polio hit the USA. After that, Korea was in conflict, then Cuba, Vietnam and Kuwait.

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During those years, we didn’t have social media. People actually wanted a cure for epidemics. There were no “fake news” channels dividing the nation. People were just thankful they had family and friends still alive, a job, food and a safe place to live.

Kids may still scream “School’s Out for Summer,” and yell “School’s been blown to pieces! No more pencils. No more books. No more teachers' dirty looks!” But how can we scream we hate something so much when for the past several years we almost lost our minds needing that very institution and in-person peer socialization?

Maybe the yell is from that infant child, who seeks the warmth of a loving mother (the teacher) who has risked his or her life to teach them during a pandemic, whose own losses are not known to their students? A lullaby is needed. In 2022, we are recuperating from the 2019 COVID pandemic that morphs and continues to threaten. And since Feb. 24, history is repeating itself in Ukraine.

School is out for summer, true … and finally it is “Good old Summertime.” But maybe this summer needs to be safer, less reactive … more thoughtful. We are again in a repeating timeline that we can only hope doesn’t continue to continue. Treasure this summer. Find a way to help someone instead of feeling deprived because you can’t take that great summer trip you planned when school began. Graduates may need an experienced guide as they take their next steps. Be one.

If anyone has an item for this column, please send it to Sharon Cox, PO Box 1559, Jamestown, ND 58402-1559.

Related Topics: JAMESTOWNSTUTSMAN COUNTY
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