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Sunday, January 29, 2023
Editor’s NotebookAfter 3 years of 'Xana-don't' ...

After 3 years of ‘Xana-don’t’ …

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… next spring will bring the local area a dose of “Xanadu”!

Perhaps an explanation is in order. (Ya think?)

In the late winter of 2020, the thespians at George C. Marshall High School were getting prepared for their spring production of the admittedly somewhat goofy but for sure entertaining stage version of the 1980 film “Xanadu” that, while poorly received by the critics (Variety’s review called the movie “stupendously bad,” and that was one of the nicer ones!), featured some good music and the presence of both Gene Kelly and Olivia Newton-John. Gotta love that.

But the late winter of 2020 also brought the Wuhan sniffles of death, which meant that not just student thespianism but schooling itself moved into a defensive crouch. Marshall joined other schools across the region and nation and nixed its springtime musical as everyone headed to their homes in an effort, somewhat futile though it came to be, to ride out the pandemic.

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But time marches on, and the newly released 2022-23 Marshall theater schedule has “Xanadu” back — in time for those students who were freshmen (freshepersons? freshpeople?) in the 2019-20 school year, and lost out on the opportunity to work on the show, the chance to do it as seniors.

Bernie DeLeo, who heads the drama department at Marshall, said he was committed to bringing “Xanadu” to audiences.

“It’s hilariously silly and joyous,” he said, calling it a “bucket-list” production he’s happy to have on the schedule.

SHOULD I BE CRANKY ABOUT THIS, OR NOT? “Not always right but seldom in doubt” would be a good motto for yours truly, but I admit at having mixed emotions over the Arlington Public Schools plan for handling Mom Nature’s winter wrath this school year.

As Superintendent Francisco Duran laid it out last week, it will almost be as if the concept of “virtual” learning had never happened, as APS will be reverting to pre-COVID norms: If it snows, everyone gets the day off and the time will not be made up.

Only if snow days total more than seven will the school system move to “online learning,” and only then because school leaders don’t want to have to add extra days to the end of the school year. (The APS motto may well be “Nos facere minimum fieri,” which if the English-to-Latin Internet translation got it right means “We do the minimum possible.”)

On the one hand … it’s another case of a school system putting actual education near the bottom of the priorities list. It wouldn’t irk me so much except that we’re getting our a##es handed to us by our adversaries who put much more stock in actually doing more than the minimum required in public education. (Anyone think the kids in China don’t make up every single day, rare as I’m sure they are, that are lost to inclement weather?)

On the other hand … trying to go to online learning for a single day or two would seem to be opening, or reopening, a can of worms and hold the prospect of what the dyslexic among us might proclaim a fustercluck. It was hard enough to get students to class online, and the technology to work, even when it had become the norm in 2020 and 2021. Not sure many students (or even teachers) would want to fire up the ol’ computers and give it a go now that they’re out of practice.

Ah well, ol’ grumblepuss here needs to noodle this one through a little further!

LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE BLACK CATS! It’s Halloween, so let’s give a shout out to the much-maligned black cats out there, including my own Albert the wonder cat.

He’s pictured below with his best friend, a clipboard (known as “Clippy”) that I bought (for my own use) some months back only to see Albert adopt as his own. Now if only I could get the cat to learn copy editing, I’d drop some articles on Clippy and he could go to town.

— Scott McCaffrey

Albert the wonder cat sitting on Clippy the clipboard.

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