Let’s Talk About Bruno, Encanto and St. George’s
Katie Morton

 

Katie Morton is the Director of Communications at St. George’s. She is a graduate of the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!), where she earned a BS in Middle Grades Education, and the University of Connecticut, where she earned an MA in Educational Psychology with an emphasis in gifted education. She previously served as a Middle School Language Arts Teacher and Director of Talented and Gifted Services. This is her 14th year at the school, and she is a parent to two St. George’s students.

*Spoilers Ahead*

 

Suffice it to say that Disney and Lin Manuel Miranda have done it again. They’ve created a masterpiece of music and themes that pull on our heartstrings and make us want to hug our families tightly. They’ve made another movie that, on the surface, feels like it was made for children, yet we adults find ourselves just as charmed, albeit for different reasons.

I watched Encanto this past weekend with my kids, and, like many of you I’m sure, we’ve been listening to the soundtrack on repeat during the commutes to and from school. My 6 year-old’s favorite song is “Surface Pressure,” and I’m partial to “Dos Oruguitas.” Of course, we love “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” too. 

I have to credit my 1st grader’s teachers for his astute observation of story elements in the film. As I explained to him one morning that Colombia is a country in South America and that it served as the setting for the movie, his little brain went to work, shifting from setting to characters. He listed off the names he could remember and substituted powers when he couldn’t. “Oh, and the house is a character, of course,” he said.

Yes, yes, it is. 

Speaking of Colombia, there’s much to reflect on around the theme of refugees and the trauma they experience, and, in the same vein, the movie and its setting present an opportunity for Americans to reframe how we think about Colombia overall, thinking first of its vibrant culture— not first of violence or drugs. The movie strikes a balance between reminding us of the very real strife of Colombia’s past and present, something that can’t be glossed over, and using it to emphasize the importance of home and family. I am eager to learn and take in more about this country, that, like Mirabel’s power, is one representative of healing.

Other themes and motifs within the movie struck a chord with me, too– sibling rivalry, the pressure we put on ourselves to be perfect (this one could be a parenting blog post of its own!), the love we have for our families, the bright colors and butterflies…

Oh, and let’s talk about Bruno. I have questions, like HOW LONG was he living in the casita without anyone but Dolores noticing? Did he have to look into the future to know when it was safe to sneak out and search for food or use the bathroom?

Beyond those questions, though, lies Bruno himself. Bruno is fascinating to me. His gift gives him a different view of the world, but maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe his way of seeing things differently steered him to his gift of prophecy? Regardless, to make an outcast of someone who thinks in a different way made me want to scream, “Bruno, no, no, no.” The happiest ending of all in Encanto was that Bruno felt accepted for who he was and rejoined his family, no longer the fantastical “seven-foot frame, rats along his back.”

(My apologies if you now have the song stuck in your head.)

Interestingly enough, Encanto and its lessons reminded me a lot of St. George’s. What I love about StG is that our students are never defined in a singular way. They are more than their gifts and certainly more than any challenges they face. The acceptance, support and compassion that the faculty and student body share allows for real embodiment of “well-rounded” — not a student who is athletic, intelligent and artistic, but a student who is confident and knows how they learn best and can thrive in any setting beyond our “casita” on Napoleon Avenue (whose magic comes from the faculty behind the doors of each classroom). St. George’s students are ready for the world, not just high school.

One of my coworkers loves to use the word “magical” when writing about St. George’s. It shows up at least once in almost every single email or letter draft she shares with me for editing. I’ve offered synonyms or removed it from her writing on many occasions, but maybe it’s time to leave it there.

Because St. George’s is magical.

 

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