Opening Ceremony is a tradition at Oakdale Academy and at many classical and classical Christian schools throughout the country.
To each portion of our Opening Ceremony, I offer the following thoughts:
1. We gather outside as it allows us to build a community, enjoy the beauty of God's creation, and watch the solemnity of the raising of Old Glory to its place atop our flagpole. We have a modified procession to begin the day quietly and set our hearts and minds on greater things.
2. We offer the Pledge of Allegiance and a patriotic song together to celebrate not only our great nation, but to do so as a community - again - around our flagpole and the work and dedication of all who made the area around it look so nice. Evoking the sense of beauty as we begin our day is not as easily replicated in our gym (though we have certainly taken steps to focus on those things).
3. Our Oakdale Prayer begins our day in corporate worship of our great God and sets our minds on who God is to and for us at Oakdale Academy while being outside and experiencing that we "may be a beacon of light in our homes and communities". We see one of those communities as we stand there with our neighbors noticing something special about this place.
4. Recitations. To have students perform their memorized selections and honor the Lord in their preparation and delivery is crucial to what we do. It displays not only their hard work in preparation, but in the actual delivery by working to ensure we all can hear what they have done. To combine their works of poetry/literature and Scripture allows us to see the link between the Word of God and those who have been given great gifts of writing. All of that, then, is combined (most days) to some charge from me to set our day.
5. Announcements, birthdays, etc. Celebrating together is a great deal of what makes Oakdale Academy special. To have students, teachers, and parents see what happens throughout the school demonstrates the importance of our entire program.
Can these things be accomplished inside? Certainly - we do so most of the winter.
Why outside, then?
I believe it is important to get outside, experience God's beauty away from fluorescent lights, see the importance of the way in which we gather by processing out rather than standing and waiting, and the solemnity of the quiet morning are important elements of setting our minds right.
Inside, the distractions are many, while outside, though there are still distractions for certain, the quietness of the morning should evoke in us the very sense of wonder we look to give our students.
These are just some quick thoughts and far from exhaustive, but I hope in reading them you see my heart and the importance Opening Ceremony plays for Oakdale Academy.