Civility at the Symphony

This week I had the privilege of joining the 3rd-6th graders on their trip to the Wichita Symphony Orchestra’s Young People’s Concert. I always enjoy going on outings with our students. The kids were well-behaved and the performance was fantastic. The instrumental trio, Time for Three, dazzled the kids with their high energy, virtuosity, and renditions of contemporary artists (including Mumford & Sons).

All of these components made for a delightful outing, but there was one moment that stuck out above the rest. We were in attendance with hundreds of children from schools around the Wichita area, thus representing a unique cross-section of Wichita student culture. At least one of the groups in attendance was evidently the special education department of a local middle school.

In anticipation of the encroaching moment, Time for Three was playing Leonard Cohen’s hauntingly beautiful “Hallelujah”. This song set the stage for what was to come. As the somber and melancholy lyrics, unknown to the great majority in attendance, flowed in my mind with the music, my heart was heavy with the dark disparity between our broken world and God’s beauty. Our world is not the way it ought to be.

About midway through the song, a melodic portrait of our world’s confusion of beauty and brokenness, one of the special education students let out a piercing screech. Perhaps for reasons of childishness, reasons of ignorance, reasons of cruelty—I do not know—the majority of the student body responded to this screech with a flood of laughter. A few seconds later it happened again, and the student body responded the same way. Then again a few seconds later with the same response.

My heart sank with sadness at the jeering reaction to this child’s gleeful response to the music. I was reminded of the darkness of a world confused concerning what is true, what is good, and what is beautiful.

But then I saw a glimmer of hope. Amidst all the laughing and jeering by an undisciplined body of students, there were three rows of students remaining still, calm, composed, attentive and civilized. While there were, I’m sure, many other individuals in the auditorium who did not engage in the laughing and jeering, I did not see even one of our CSW students engage in the chaos.

Our world is not the way it ought to be. But what a joy it is to be a part of a community that values and instills civility in its students. They are already a glimmer of hope in the midst of a confused world.


Josh Dyson,
Proud CSW Administrator