Move out day is a strange one on boarding school campuses. There is a palpable change of energy. To borrow a metaphor from my wife, it’s like stepping off of a moving sidewalk in an airport. The experience begins the night of or day after graduation when the senior class departs. “They’re launched!” And, “there goes thousands of hours of love, sweat, and tears—I hope we did a good job; I hope they make good on what we imparted.” But the rest of the student body is still here and they have exams to keep them focused, ideally—review sessions, study groups, project management in action. And it’s also time for them to pack up and leave. As the day-today-unfolds you can feel the energy dissipate. Only then do you realize that you probably couldn’t have kept that pace up for much longer—students and adults both. Most of the time, it’s the best kind of tired (for my first two years as boarding school student, it wasn’t a good tired because I completely frittered away the exam period). This year, largely due to how well the class of 2014 finished, it seems like a very good kind of tired among the adults.
And today it’s time for those parents who drove to campus to feel tired. (I was always headed to an airport for a plane ride home—my stuff was as packed as it was going to get, my room as clean as it was going to get, and, though I’m not proud to admit it, my parents didn’t see the room deposit again.) Inevitably, students manage to slough most of the hard work on to mom or dad. Mom and dad vow “not next year.” Inevitably, it’s hot and muggy, as it will be in August when we move back in. Inevitably, everyone wonders how they accumulated so much stuff over the course of the year and resolves not to do the same next year. Right.
And, hopefully, everyone takes a moment to recognize how much growth occurred over the course of the year—how much students learned about life and learning; how much teachers learned about teaching; how much leaders in all areas—students and adults—learned about leading. It’s safe to say that none of us had the year we expected—there were triumphs and failures we couldn’t have expected and a whole lot of normal stuff in between. The point, at the risk of cliché, is how we respond to the unexpected as well as what we make of the hum drum day to day. And, with another year under our collective belts, the point is also to gather our learnings—at least the equivalent of pausing as we hike up a mountain to look back and take in just how much we’ve accomplished, and how our perspective and our ability to proceed has changed and improved as a result. As that sage observer of high school, Ferris Bueller, once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Too true. My sincere congratulations to our now summering students on a great 2013-2014! The faculty are now evaluating the year, finishing their assessing of underclassmen end of term work, entering comments, and participating in year-end meetings with summer a couple of steps away—filled with rest, for sure, but, for most people, with opportunities for development and growth.