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May 23, 2014

Brian Anderson: 'Life is but a stopping place'

— The Dalton community and City Park Elementary remembered and celebrated the life of Brittany Marie Huber. On Friday, I attended my second balloon release in 12 months. The first was in celebration of the life of Christian Mosely Bryant, who won her earthly race and went to heaven May 26, 2013.  And my second, on Friday, celebrated the life of Brittany Huber — fiance of John Redmond and a teacher’s assistant at City Park Elementary.

Brittany’s celebration included an audience of Brittany’s parents and grandparents, John’s family, precious City Park kindergartners through fifth graders, the teachers and staff of City Park and members of the Dalton community. Assistant Principal Cindy Edmondson provided beautiful and heartfelt words of remembrance and encouragement.

Third-grader Andy Velasquez played “Amazing Grace” on the piano. Dalton High School senior Allison Pourquoi provided a beautiful creative dance. City Park’s fifth-grade chorus sang the Phillip Phillips song “Home.” Emily Stephens, a fifth-grader, read the poem “Life is but a stopping place.” And lastly, the teachers and students released white and blue balloons into the air that quickly reached heaven.

I am providing this level of detail for two reasons: 1. Although writing about it, I cannot come close to representing this sweet and amazing celebration. I wish everyone in our community could have participated. 2. This celebration was one of those life moments, a teaching moment, for those privileged to share in it.

Our world has become dominated by negative headlines. Our world has become polarized and judgmental. And in a time when technology and the power of the human spirit continue to demonstrate that our problems can be solved, in a time that ample evidence demonstrates our abundance of potential, and in a time that coming together seems so logical, it seems we are drifting further and further apart.

Friday’s remembrance and celebration of the life of a very special daughter, granddaughter, fiance, teacher and friend was just what we all needed. It is my belief that tragic times not only shake us to our core but they usually serve a purpose. They demand we look deeper; that we express our love for one another. They make us rise among the triviality that plagues us.

I stood beside Dalton State Athletic Director and Coach Derek Waugh during the celebration.  At one point I whispered to him that moments like Friday’s cannot be expressed by test scores.  I saw a community within a community. I saw administrators, teachers and students teaching each other, loving each other and comforting each other  As the students prepared to leave the playground and return to class for their final 15 minutes of the day and school year, I saw four little girls (probably third-graders) crying inconsolably. And a few seconds later I saw two little boys (probably first or second-graders) walking together with their arm around each other.

Principal Rick Little,  Edmondson, the entire City Park family — I thank you for remembering and celebrating the life of Brittany. And I also thank you for the teachable moment. Education is more than reading, writing and arithmetic. It is compassion toward others. It is caring for one another. And it is taking the time to be human through expressing our love for one another. Thank you for bringing us together as a community and as a family.

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