I just returned from my younger son’s high school graduation. It was a bit stressful and emotional but I was pleasantly surprised in how seriously touching the event was among the teachers and kids. This all came by the heartfelt delivery from teachers and students and participants in this right-of-passage ceremony.
The first event, The Angies’s was a roast that the teachers give to each of the Senior students. The teachers sing, dance and read poetry to their advisees. I may be biased but Jackson’s I thought was one of the best performances by his advisor, Robie Jackson (coincidental name, who happens to be the Drama / Theater teacher). She’s great and we would have never made it through this year without her assistance. She started her performance with her hair pulled back and then pulled some of her hair out covering her face. The Sonic Youth jammed in the background and she proceeded to say things like “Texture — Jackson Spencer sees colors no one else sees….Dangerously Bright.” It was truthful poetry. We weren’t sure he was graduating until that Saturday.
I was taken by the Suffragan Bishop of Alabama’s address for the Baccalaureate ceremony. He was chosen to speak by the students. It was not only what he said but his delivery in how he said it. This made his message all the more meaningful. He told a story about when he was attending Mississippi State University and his girlfriend was attending Millsaps and he had to attend a function there. She was concerned about his country-boy appearance. An old friend told him not to worry because, “Ain’t nobody better than you.” This gave him encouragement and he was starting to feel pretty confident but then his friend said, “And you ain’t no better than anybody else.” This kinda put it in perspective and gave a profound humbling message to the students and the parents.This story was right after he had delivered a personal message about being caught in a lie with his brother when they were young kids and what to do about it. He eventually apologized to the neighbor who he offended. His brother did not and consequently lived with a lie and it made him feel terrible. His neighbor’s response was, “You’re a good kid.” The message here was don’t hold on to things you’ve done in the past, forgive others and then forgive yourself.
The events progressed with an awards ceremony and unexpectedly Jackson was awarded a monetary prize for his artwork that the school had purchased. He also showed us his stylistic Dada artwork that he and other students had painted in various art period styles. His is the lavender texture one with the lips. These were all well done, complete with the artists’ statements.
Jackson doesn’t like to pose.
St. Andrews-Sewanee has a fantastic art gallery. It was a great place to show Jackson’s artistic time-lapse video that he did for Film Class, the first of it’s kind at St. Andrews. Here’s the link here to view a couple of Jackson’s videos, including Weekend Activities, which give a little insight into a boarder’s view at the school.
Finally, graduation day. I was so moved by both the Salutatorian and the Valedictorian’s addresses to the assembly. Their speeches could have been about the need to study hard and do well but were not. Coincidentally they were very similar but in different ways. Each had just found out the day before so these were not planned. They spoke about the importance of every single one of their classmates — the importance of the individual. Jackson was mentioned in one for his impressive remarks in poetry class. The message was not that you are remembered for what you achieve but for how you connect and engage with others. Everyone was brought to tears by these passionate, honest expressions. Then the moment, finally it’s official and we’re off on another roller coaster ride to the next stage. Hopefully it won’t be as bumpy but just as exciting.
I have to give a plug to The Monteagle Inn where we stayed. We felt like there was a little Tuscany in our Sewanee’s backyard with our balcony view to drink our coffee each morning. It made our visit all the more comfortable “coming home.” Sewanee is where Peter and I met and attended The University of the South, where Jackson will be going to college in the fall, after attending summer school there in a couple of weeks. We’re excited for him because he’s going to be getting the same teachers that we remember, who inspired us and in many ways opened our eyes through their knowledge and passion for a liberal arts education.
We ended our trip, taking in the spots for exceptional scenery like here at Greensview from the top of the mountain domain.
Sonic Youth — Dirty Boots to Kick Start the Weekend and to commemorate passing the teenage angst years (fingers crossed).