Letter from the Director

For the last few weeks, masks have been optional here at school. Like many students, I was hesitant to shed my face covering. I wondered if we had really reached the point where it was safe to do so. I couldn’t help but think back to the early days of the pandemic when I was quarantined alone in my apartment in Queens—worried to go for a walk; the sounds of endless sirens piercing the silence of the night. Was that really so far in the past?

I now roam our halls maskless for the first time since I started working here in the fall. It is nice to not have my glasses fog up, or to have to do as much guesswork to figure out what my students are feeling, or even to learn that a freshman in my class is rocking braces. But more importantly, I’ve felt like I have gotten to experience the fun, vibrant community here at North Shore High School for the first time. Though COVID will still be a part of our lives for the foreseeable future, it feels like some kind of weight has been lifted and we might be starting to move forward again.

The pandemic gave many of us the chance to reflect on what kind of world we want to live in. It gave us the space to consider what we might tolerate and what we might fight for and how we might hold each other accountable on that journey. But it also robbed us of birthday parties, field trips, graduations, weddings, and most significantly beloved friends and family members. As we creep closer to one million COVID deaths in our country, it is hard to not feel the profound loss that has touched every single one of us in one way or another. It is harder to not wonder what our responsibility is to the world that has been entrusted to us by those who are no longer here.

Hello, Dolly! encourages us to take on this responsibility. It asks us to think about how we might reengage with the world as we come out of mourning and it demands that we celebrate life, wherever it is found. It instructs us to pack the lives we have been blessed with full of joy, humor, and above all else, love. By doing this, our play suggests, we might honor those we have lost and we might create a world worth fighting for. It’s up to us to figure out how we can help each other get there.

Thank you for supporting the arts here at North Shore and for being a part of our first full live audience in three years. We hope that you laugh, open your hearts, and take this first step forward with us. As we sing in the title number of our show, “It’s so nice to have you back where you belong.”

Aaron Brateman