On a recent Monday morning, the Class 1 students quietly strode into the classroom and found spots on the soft blue carpet. With their teachers’ gentle encouragement, they directed their attention to a special visitor sitting on a wooden stool before them, a picture book with a violet cover resting on her lap.
“When I was about to fall asleep, I thought, what’s waiting for me tomorrow?” the visitor began in a lively voice. “And then I remembered I was going to be with you. I had a very hard time getting to sleep because I was so excited!”
The feeling in the room was indeed mutual because their guest was none other than Dr. Patricia Hayot, Chapin’s Head of School, who cleared her schedule to read aloud to all three sections of Class 1.
“Does anybody want to take a risk and read the cover of this book?” Dr. Hayot asked, holding it up for all to see. Many eager hands shot up.
“Say Something,” one student confidently, and correctly, declared.
This particular book, written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds, resonated with Dr. Hayot. “Each summer I choose a book for the School and it has to be just right. The reason this book inspired me,” she explained, “was because it fits so beautifully with our theme, Listen with Compassion, Act with Courage,” the far-reaching, school-wide theme that guides the year’s activities and conversations.
Dr. Hayot also noted that she had read “Say Something!” to Classes 2-12 during an All-school Assembly to ring in the new school year. Because Class 1 (as well as the Kindergartners) were still settling into their Chapin routines, she treated them to a more intimate reading in one of their classrooms. And what an inspiring morning it turned out to be!
After saying a few words about the accomplished author and his “divine illustrations,” Dr. Hayot began by reading some of the messages that filled the inside front cover. Positive affirmations like “Take a stand,” “Your voice matters,” “May kindness be your compass,” “Together is better,” Be brave,” and “Speak from your heart,” floated in word bubbles against a patterned background. Already, the girls were transfixed.
“The world needs your voice,” she read, displaying the opening pages for all to see. “And yours and yours and yours,” Dr. Hayot added, pointing to several students for emphasis.
“You can say something in so many ways. With words, with action, with creativity,” she went on. “If you see someone lonely…SAY SOMETHING…by just being there for them.”
The students were urged to join in and share their strong voices by exclaiming “SAY SOMETHING!” after each example. At first, their responses were tentative. Gradually, a chorus of mighty voices rose up and continued throughout the reading, much to Dr. Hayot’s delight.
If you see someone being hurt…SAY SOMETHING by being brave.
If you are angry…SAY SOMETHING to help people understand.
If you see an injustice, SAY SOMETHING peacefully. Inspire others to do the same.
“Everyone has to something to say,” Dr. Hayot remarked, reminding the girls there are myriad ways – gorgeously conveyed in the pages of this book – they can productively express their feelings, like painting a picture, planting a lot, writing a poem, fighting injustice, implementing an idea or simply listening to a friend.
Smiles all around, Dr. Hayot looked out into the bright faces of the students. “So when you’re ready – “Everybody, loud as you can,” she prompted, sweeping her arms in the air – “SAY SOMETHING!”
After thanking Dr. Hayot, these Class 1 students continued on with their morning, perhaps ever more mindful of the power of their voices.