Just One Sentence…

Daniel relaxes with a little Tolstoy

Daniel relaxes with a little Tolstoy

It was 1963 and I was an 8th grader at St. Margaret’s Catholic School. It was the year that Peter, Paul and Mary were telling us that the answers were “Blowing in the Wind,” but unfortunately I had no idea what the questions were. Sister Philip Mary suggested that I might check the philosophy section at the Hartford County Library. In retrospect, she was probably only suggesting the likes of Thomas Aquinas and Augustine, but I fell first upon J.B. Philip’s text, “Your God is Too Small.” I panicked! If he’s right, I thought, I’m looking at some serious Purgatory time!

At Sister Philip Mary’s prodding, I continued to read. There was Kierkegaard, Sartre, Teilhard de Chardin, Camus, Kant, Dostoyevsky. You may be curious if I understood what I was reading…well…not exactly. I could always latch on to just one sentence with which to begin an after-school conversation though. Thus began my fascination with books…

So today, at Cherokee Creek, I still feed that facsination by helping our boys get their hands on the books they want to read. PaperbackSwap.com and book donations from parents and friends have allowed us to secure hundreds of books for our boys, newly awakened to the power of words and books. Hardly a day goes by that I do not receive a request for a book about pandas, or fly fishing, or WWII fighter jets, or card tricks—or a book by J.K. Rowling, or Gary Paulsen, or John Grisham, or Orson Scott Card. The possibilities are endless!

And just when I thought I had seen it all, picture this scene from last week: a boy comes up to my office and says, “Sharon, can you get me a book of short stories by Leo Tolstoy?” I’m telling you that my heart skipped a beat! Peter, Paul and Mary belted out lyrics in my psyche! And in my mind, Sister Philip Mary admonished me to take this lad seriously! And so seven days later, I was handing over Count Leo Tolstoy, one of the world’s greatest novelists, to an eager 13 year old. An observing colleague asked, “how much do you think he’ll understand?” “It doesn’t matter,” I responded, “I hope that a spark will ignite, and this young man will latch on to just one sentence…”

Cherokee Creek Boys School is a therapeutic boarding school for middle-school boys, ages 11-15, located in Upsate South Carolina.

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posted by Shaler Black Cooper in Discovering What is Real and True and have Comments (7)

River Lessons (Part 4)

River Lessons is a series of blogs from our students’ perspectives. Students recently reflected on their Treks experiences through writing and made connections to the Lessons of the Medicine Wheel and the 4 aspects of self they learn to explore while enrolled at Cherokee Creek: the Warrior, Visionary, Healer and Teacher.

Student: Mike
Aspect: Warrior
Statement: I am Courageous

“The Warrior is someone who shows up and chooses to be present. The I am statement courage was used more than any other skill on Trek. I used courage when I set up my tent in a difficult staking area, hiking Tallulah Gorge, sliding on the rock and talking to two girls, Danielle and Stephanie, and was able to ask for Danielle’s number in front of a big group of people. I had many self-confidence struggles before I came to CCBS and feel I made a huge change in one social conversation.”

Don’t you just love Mike’s courage and the way he stood up for himself!? He so clearly defines a rite of passage when he describes the, “huge change in one social conversation.”

Where do you stand up for yourself and declare your own value? When have you had to gather every drop of your own self-confidence to address a situation?

Lessons of the Medicine WheelCherokee Creek Boys School is a therapeutic boarding school for middle school boys, ages 11-15, located in Upstate South Carolina.

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posted by Shaler Black Cooper in River Lessons and have No Comments