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Let's Make A Memory — Larnelle Harris
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I grew up in a small town in Kentucky with loving parents and a few self-appointed disciplinarians that I was certain I didn’t need. They were made up of people like Mr. Abe and his wife, Miss Mag, who, having a direct pipeline to my parents, seemed to be aware of every little indiscretion that I was involved in. The phrase “It takes a village to raise a child” was one that was carried out on my street.

Also residing in that village were some loving and caring teachers. I remember being so enamored with my first grade teacher that I vowed never to leave her room. But Mr. Summers, the principal, was another matter altogether. When you thought of Mr. Summers, you thought fear. He had a reputation for insisting that students stay on the right side of the line, with severe consequences when it was crossed. The best course of action with Mr. Summers, it seemed to me, was to stay off of his radar. However, some of us who sang in the grade-school choir were definitely noticed by him. I was a reluctant boy soprano who didn’t want to sing in front of anyone because I didn’t want to be teased by my peers. It was years later that I realized Mr. Summers considered all of us his kids and we were always on his radar.

One day in the lunchroom lineup, I got involved in a shoving match with one of my buddies. Mr. Summers saw it all and took me to his office. I knew I was in deep trouble. All of this, through some underground network, would make its way back to my parents or — even worse — Miss Mag. Neither outcome would be good, I suspected.

Apparently, Mr. Summers knew about my reluctance to sing, and I soon discovered that this office visit was not about the shoving match at all. After a few moments of verbal refinement, Mr. Summers did the strangest thing. He started singing. And I learned that day that Mr. Summers had the most beautiful high voice that I had ever heard. Yes, this was my village at work again — seeking out, identifying and encouraging the talents and aptitudes that its children possessed. All of us who had the privilege of being under the guidance of those who took the responsibility for our village owe them a great deal of thanks. From that moment on, I knew it was OK to sing.

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