Sacred space: The Thurber Arts Center

Posted by Adam Bernick - 28 September, 2015

Adam BernickWhen the Thurber Arts Center first opened, I could hardly believe how we ever managed school without it!  Neither could Huntsville.  We get calls and email weekly regarding community use for this impressive space. Not only is the facility beautiful, but Huntsville doesn’t have a space quite like it anywhere else with such an impressive stage.

One of my favorite moments in the Thurber Arts Center was the time alumna Swapna Kakani spoke to the faculty at our back to school in-service. Her powerful words at the podium reminded me how important our work as educators is every day. Another was the 2012 spring band concert, Sacred Spaces. This concert was a culmination of music that reminds us of places of worship. With selections like “Old Churches” and “Cathedral Music” much of the music seemed familiar to the packed audience.  We closed the concert with a Michael Colgrass piece titled “Bali.”  The colorful sounds, lights and costumes of the students who took the stage to perform classical Indian dance offered our audience a breathtaking image of a sacred space.

may concert 017wAnother illuminating performance is TEDxHuntsville, which brings to our stage some of our community’s great thinkers and doers. Randolph is proud to have hosted this event since 2011. At this year’s TEDx, teenager Abbey Alford reminded us that we all have (two) special needs (to be loved and to be accepted) and Howard Jacob explained why everyone in Madison County should have their DNA sequenced (he has an app for that!) I was especially moved by Amy Robinson’s presentation on EyeWire.

To me, what made Amy’s talk great had little to do with her work directing the MIT program for mapping the brain. I found her passion for life inspiring and infectious. She loves to learn and she tells a story about her own learning. She also believes in doing what you love to do, whether or not it is profitable. Amy moved the crowd, too. She had our attention, our open minds, and our hearts.  You could ask just about anyone who heard her speak and we all would have been ready to travel to the world, create a new business, or cure cancer without a dollar in our pocket.

She had our attention, our open minds, and our hearts.

The Thurber Arts Center is, by design, a space for community interaction. It is a space for “show and tell,” where ideas, art, and conversations take place. Hosting events like TEDx or an internationally renowned speaker like Neri Oxman is why this space exists. What better way for Randolph to be of value to the Huntsville community than to be a place where we share that which we hold sacred — learning, researching, and ideas that can make real change in our own community?

TEDxHuntsville allows us to demonstrate to the community the kind of learners we aspire to be at Randolph. When we present our ideas to others, we deepen our purpose as educators.  When we listen to others present their ideas, we open our minds to change. To any of my colleagues or students who are reading this who have never attended a TEDxHuntsville, I urge you to make a point to attend next year. When Randolph and TEDx work together, Huntsville benefits.

Photos: Adam Bernick welcomes guests to TEDx; the 2012 Spring Band Concert.

Topics: community, Community Learning, creativity, Huntsville, My favorite place, On-campus, teachers, TEDx, TEDxHuntsville, the world, Thurber Arts Center, People

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