The strangest thing happened yesterday... I was subbing for a 6th grade class at Hoity-Toity Elementary and sometime after the kids came back from lunch the secretary came on the intercom system and announced that "the governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell, had requested that there be a bell of remembrance for the people of Virginia." Then the "change classes", horrible, annoying buzzer came over the speaker for a second and the woman said, "thank you, you can all return to what you were doing."
I understand that "say a prayer for" was changed to "a moment of silence", but when did "a moment of silence" devolve into "a buzz of remembrance"?!
Needless to say, the kids all looked to me with their puzzled little faces. "Why wasn't it a moment of silence," one girl asked,” couldn’t we just have a moment...that was weird" --to which there was mass agreement.
I started to explain that some people probably complained that the moment of silence was too close to prayer...then said, "You know what, let's not even get into this...ask your parents when you get home. Quite frankly, I'm as confused as you."
When I got home I looked up what Rendell had said --and I think the school may have gotten it wrong...
"...Pennsylvanians are being encouraged by Gov. Ed Rendell to observe a day of mourning tomorrow to honor the victims of Monday's mass shooting at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va...
Rendell also urged churches, cathedrals and other institutions across Pennsylvania to ring bells at noon on Friday in a special tribute to the victims." (source)
I think he meant pretty church bells, not loud school buzzers. My kids' school had the moment...
Found this over at Wiki: "...the notion of an official moment of silence is clearly derived from prayer, and critics often view it as publicly endorsed prayer "in disguise." This issue has been especially raised by atheists, who argue that no non-religious purpose is served by designating an official moment of silence. They point out, for example, that many schools have entire class periods dedicated to silent study, which can equally be used for silent prayer or meditation." (source)
Then, as the epitome of bad timing, the school decided it would be a good idea to have a fire drill (yesterday of all days). When the deafening bell went off I literally jumped (which the kids found hilarious) and then said, "That scared the crap out of me!" (which they found even funnier…)