Twenty-one years ago on March 1, 1976, the Venerable Master Hua founded Instilling Goodness School in San Francisco. Recently the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas held a special event to commemorate the efforts the Ven. Master dedicated to education and to celebrate the school's anniversary.
At eight o'clock in the morning on Friday, March 7, 1997, the students from the Girls Schools lined up in front of the schools. The novice nun students then led their classmates to the Hall of the Patriarchs, where everyone paid respects to the founder of the schools--Venerable Master Hua. After Principal Heng Shr Shi offered incense at the altar, the Master of Ceremonies gave a brief account of the schools' history and encouraged those present to carry on the Ven. Master's wishes in establishing schools. Then, one by one, each of the teachers and students offered a flower in front of the altar. Finally, the school flags were offered before the altar in a solemn ceremony.
The ceremonies were followed by an extremely intense question-and-answer game. All the students, young and aspiring Einsteins, were grouped into six teams in the Chan Hall. The teachers had racked their brains to come up with interesting questions covering a wide range of subjects. The handbell was used to indicate right answers, the tambourine wrong answers, and a wooden fish was used like a buzzer for when each team came up with an answer. The room was a hubbub of excitement.
Meanwhile, there was a speech contest at the Boys School. The topics were: (1) how to respect teachers and elders, and (2) how to cherish the school. The Abbot, Heng Lyu Shi, personally hosted the contest. The winners were awarded.
During the noon meal, all of a sudden the Lion Dance team appeared in the dining hall. They danced from the front of the great Buddha image to the middle of the hall, where they stepped onto a platform and lifted up a red cloth to reveal a huge 21st Anniversary cake. Then a group of young children opened the program with a recitation and song. Both the Boys' and Girls' Schools orchestras performed Chinese traditional music. Principal Terri Nicholson then spoke of how, when the school was first founded at the Translation Institute in San Francisco, there were only eight students. She and the other teachers had no teaching experience and had to learn as they went along. Ms. Nicholson also recounted how the Ven. Master would compose humorous and satirical songs in English to give the teachers encouragement and also to teach the students.
After the noon meal, the Boys' School students first went to the Hall of the Patriarchs to pay their respects before the Ven. Master's image. Then they performed a Lion Dance for the old and young alike. The quick beat of the drum swept away the afternoon laziness. Their intense performance led from one climax to another, drawing cheers and applause from everyone. The Lion Dance kept everyone in a state which alternated between joy and excitement. At the end, the Lion Dancers climbed up a pole beside the stage and, with great agility, unfurled a red banner with the words "Celebrating the Schools' 21st Anniversary," drawing another round of applause. With the pop! pop! of firecrackers, the performance drew to a close.
Everyone should be concerned about protecting our planet. One-third of the earth we live on is waste and garbage. Therefore, finding uses for garbage is a crucial task. In the backyard of the Girls Schools, a bunch of inventors put their brains to the task of how to make something useful out of garbage. Ah ha! It was as if a 100-watt lightbulb lighted up in each person's head. Pretty soon jeeps, trains, Jacob's ladders, houses, and other creations came forth from under the students' ingenious hands. That marked the end of the day's activities.