Thoughts Triggered at Wynnton Arts Academy

Wynnton Arts Academy, a.k.a. Wynnton Elementary, the oldest continuously used school in Georgia

As I was sitting in the auditorium of Wynnton Arts Academy in Columbus,  Georgia,  attending a performance in which a four-year-old friend of mine, Cliff Tankerserley, son of Lance and Anne Tankersley, was performing,  I had to reflect on my years at Wynnton, and on all the things I have seen over eight decades.

Wynnton Kindergarten and Pre-K students performing "Rumble in the Jungle." This was taken from a video shot by Lance Tankersley, father of 4-year-old Cliff. Cliff is the 4th person from the right.

When I started in the First Grade at Wynnton in 1937, the nice auditorium with state-of-the-art lighting wasn’t added until eight years later.  They did such a good job of matching it to the rest of the older  building that it looks as though it has always been a part of the school.


Wynnton Arts Academy auditorium was built in 1945

 One of the most spectacular news stories of 1937, the year I entered Wynnton Elementary School, was the explosion and burning of the German zeppelin Hindenburg as it was docking in Manchester Township, New Jersey. 

The first big technological leaps were made  before I was born, but not before Wynnton Academy for Boys was built in 1843.  By 1853 boys and girls were attending. Electric lights and motors,  the telephone, automobiles, the movie camera, radio, and the phonograph were all invented in the late 19th Century.  But, just look at what happened after I came on the scene in 1930:

Television, cell phones, the Internet, atomic bombs, atomic power, jet aircraft, space shuttles, rockets powerful enough to put men on the moon, helicopters, microwave ovens, just to mention a few things that had been around for quite a while when today’s Wynnton kids were born.

And think of the dramatic breakthroughs in medicine: sulfur drugs, antibiotics, and vaccines to prevent polio, chickenpox, smallpox, and now, thankfully,  shingles, and the discovery of laparoscopic surgery. 

They were all marvelous scientific achievements, but there is, of course, the downside.  The two largest catastrophes since 1930 would be World War II and the Great Depression.  It is estimated that up to 70 million people, the majority being civilians, were killed during WWII. The first use of atomic energy was to kill hundreds of thousands of people.  The Great Depression threw hundreds of millions of people worldwide into abject, crushing poverty. 

Certainly we have learned from those lessons to get along better with each other and the world, to think in terms of community, and to use our wonderful technological advances to make it a better world for all.  Of course, you know, that has not happened.  Our country has been at war almost constantly since World War II, conducting two up until recently when we decided to add another one.  Millions of people in the world are starving. Millions don’t have clean water to drink.  Too many dictators still rule and oppress. 

It is enough to depress a person if you let it.  But, probably a better approach is simply to do the best you can to make the world a better place for all, and to enjoy the real treasures of life,  people you love and who love you.  A retired friend of mine, who was a highly-placed corporate executive who was involved in employee motivation recently made the statement that money is never a motivator. That, deep down, it’s not what people care about.  Once they reach a comfortable level of income, they care about what happens at work, and their self-esteem. He did add, though, that the lack of money can definitely be a motivator.  Not having enough to properly support oneself and family does focus ones concentration on money.

Just think of what thoughts a return visit to where you went to school can generate.

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