A Night at the Museum, A Day at the Show

The Parent Imperfect was just recovering from the trip back from one Washington, when he was off on another trip to the “other Washington.” Trying to save his faithful clients a bit of money, the PI went through Baltimore, which he’ll never do again. He missed his train back to Baltimore, and ended up in a $55 cab. So much for saving money.

While the PI was trying to complete one more consulting job, Ms. Liz was trying to deal with the final rehearsal rush for The Little Mermaid. No one had any idea what Connie was getting into when the WFT invited her to this cast. Connie and several other 8-10-year-olds were out very late at least three time this week. Since they haven’t been able to work out any carpooling arrangements, the PI and Liz are spending a lot of time on the Jamaicaway. Today, they’ll be sharing the neighborhood with several thousand people trying to find parking for a Red Sox game.

The PI returned just in time to get ready for Ritmos de la Noche, a celebration of Margarita Muñíz’s 27 years at the helm of the Rafael Hernández School. The event, hosted by The Museum of Fine Arts, was every bit a gala. Museum catering staff served excellent food and drink in one of the museum’s most beautiful exhibition spaces. Notable people read proclamations from politicians and reflected on a lifetime of service by an extraordinary woman.

A group of overworked Hernández parents puts together a Noche de Fiesta that does a great job of building community and raising funds for the school each year. This year, the decision was made to do Ritmos, a way to allow a broader community to recognize Margarita’s contribution to a school and a city.

Diana Lam, Head of School at the Boston Conservatory Lab Charter School, and an old friend and colleague of Margarita, offered a thoughtful recognition of Margarita’s contribution. It took her a while to get people’s attention, but she eventually succeeded. Drawing on a scene from Dostoevsky’s, Brothers Karamazov, Lam spoke of a “deep, intense, tragic love” and likened the author’s description to Margarita’s commitment to the school. The PI will endeavor to get the exact quote, but the reference captured perfectly how the PI and family have experienced Margarita’s love. One can disagree with Margarita about many things (as the PI certainly has, over the years), but no one can question her commitment to the RHS and the community in which it sits. It is also true that she has successfully navigated a very difficult bureaucracy to the benefit of her school.

José Massó, longtime host of the local Latin music show, Con Salsa, did a great job as MC. When they finally stopped raising money and it was time to dance, local bandleader, Gilberto Rivera and his orchestra provided the music. Rivera is, of course, an ex-student of the Hernández.

Margarita is not as energetic today as she once was (who is?), but she greeted every guest and had a few words for the crowd, herself. After she finished, she returned to the podium to remind the crowd that no funds provided to the the RHS would ever be wasted. The party crowd apparently took her words to heart. Rumor has it that the party raised over $40,000 from the floor. No matter how much money the party raised, no one who was there will soon forget the evening.

Of course, the PI couldn’t go the entire night at an event for the RHS without discussing Connie’s plans for next year. Since this was, in some way, the Hernández at its best, it was a difficult place to have the conversation. Many people asked about Connie, and one woman, a Spanish teacher and former Hernández parent wanted to know if the PI and Liz were considering moving Connie to another school (She obviously knew the story). Hearing the PI’s version, she said “these are our children, and we have to do what is best for them.”

Ms. Liz joined the conversation at this point and bristled slightly at the notion that she would consider anything but the best for her girl. “I don’t like Advanced Work…at all. It isn’t like I’m going to refuse to consider it, but C. is going to do well academically, wherever she is. What she needs is to learn to deal with children who might have different gifts than she has. She doesn’t need to be in a class of privileged high-achievers, just yet.” Luckily, the music started before this could go much further. Needless to say, the future remains unclear.

Speaking of Ms. Connie, yesterday was her first performance in The Little Mermaid. The Boston Globe has yet to review it, but the proud parents thought it was just fine. The crabs are clearly ensemble players, but this is just the perfect way for Connie to learn about the theater. She is quite in love with the 18-year-old actress who plays Pearl, the Little Mermaid. After the show, members of the cast (including Connie, who was beaming at Pearl’s side) sat on the stage and answered audience questions about what it was like. She certainly has the theater bug. The PI wonders, with some trepidation, just where this will end.

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