Thinking of a Wonderful Place  

by on August 24, 2023 · 1 comment

in From the Soul

by Ernie McCray

I look at a picture of me at a mic
and my son, Guy,
playing the guitar at my right
and I think,
“Man, I’ve had a great life”
because that moment, in the photo,
captured me having the time of my life,
giving a graduation speech,
via a song,
to people I dearly loved
as sure as I was born,
students at Muir,
a K-12 alternative school,

the song beginning with

“Sometimes in life,

there’s ups and downs,

sometimes the ups seem down

and the downs seem up,

it all depends,

depends a lot on you

and what you do,

you’ve got to strive to stay up

when the downs

pull down on you.”

The song got into

it’s better to solve problems

with a “me and you” attitude

in reference to some issues

we had that year

in trying to make our school

better than it already was

and it was a school on fire,


learning taking place

all over the place,

one of the greatest places

I’ve ever known

and I’ve known many a great place

and what I loved most about the place

is that we had made a space

for the young people

to play a role

in what happened on those grounds,

their voices

as powerful as the principal’s

or the teachers’

or the parents’,

free to spread their wings

and create with others

an environment
rich in creativity
and critical thinking.

Being one of the original people
who put this on its feet
is one of my life’s greatest memories,

starting with all the pre-planning anxieties

and then walking into the school building

that first day

to empty classrooms

and hallways

and soon, like magic,

striking murals adorned the wall,

with other arts also on display,

sculptures, music in classrooms

and on the lawn

and along the corridor,

yoga on the grass,

dancers dancing, prancers prancing,

actors emoting…

A radio station was created from scrap

by a few students who went on to big careers

in the entertainment industry.

Classes were taught not only

by teachers,

some of the very best

that could be found,

but by parents and folks in the community

who had an expertise

in a subject,

and by students,

making me recall

a history class

taught by a student from his vast stamp collection,

and a class called “Donahue”

where students would watch Phil Donahue interview

interesting people on TV

which would lead to debate

on a large array of topics,

spanning just about everything in the universe

and I got in the mix

a few times

and had a great time conducting a class of my own called

“Rap with Ernie”

to standing room only,

in which we’d lay out the issues of the day

and brainstorm ways our society could lessen

the matters that divided us

with the emphasis being on

what we could do as individuals

working with others.


That was the essence of my graduation song:
a song I’m glad entered my mind,
as it has reminded me of some great times.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Gravitas August 25, 2023 at 6:59 am

Ernie: What a wonderful poem…great memories of the “good” in the world. Loved the bit about “teachers teaching.”


Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: