17 May 2008
Today, Saturday, was the first day of ceremony for Cheshire's graduation. The seniors have been partying since Monday evening, but it is just today that family and friends joined into the gala. We started our partying yesterday at a small wine and cheese party that the Crew coach hosted for her graduating seniors. It was sweet to see these girls in pretty clothes and loose styled hair instead of sweats and spandex. Ava, the coach, gave each girl a bracelet, each one different for carefully picked. She has known most of her rowers for their entire college careers – they have worked together, spent every spring break at school, and raced and practiced and erged. It was nice seeing parents and hearing what each girl was doing after graduation. They are a good and very hard working group.
This morning we started at the athletes luncheon – a rare treat for this family who has not engaged in communal effort and sweating. Conn College is not a big jock school – division 3 in most sports --, so the sports probably have a softer edge, and the graduating seniors are students first. Still, it was about as much sports talk as I could take. A few speeches about the seniors who received awards for running, jumping, kicking or carrying balls, and swimming filled my quota of sports related speechifying for another decade or so. There was an interesting young woman who is the first Bolivian to come to Conn College, and who has played on the Bolivian national soccer team since she was 16.
Next came the SICLA certificate ceremony. SICLA is the program that Ches has been a part of since Sophomore year. The aim is to create world citizens and towards that end the students go through an application process, take the program courses in their sophomore and senior years, study abroad, do an internship abroad, and write a thesis. In so many ways this was a perfect program for Cheshire. So much of her schooling seemed to culminate in the challenge of this program. There are 35 of the 500 or so seniors who are SICLA scholars and I would have loved to read the papers that so many of them produced. Cheshire's certificate came with honors because she surpassed expectations on her language proficiency test. She was only one of 5 students to have done so, and for Cheshire is it a good thing considering that she will be teaching in a bilingual classroom in just a few months.
After the SICLA ceremony, there was a Baccalaureate, designed by students. It was a backwards look at the last four years. Students spoke, read poetry, danced and sang. Two professors spoke – one dance professor – David Dorfman – who danced and moved, and made me yearn for those days when such movement was part of my everyday life.
We spent the evening having dinner – a real family celebration. Marcia and Matthew are with us this weekend, as are Nick and Sarah Grace. Nick and Sarah arrived just as we were leaving the hotel for dinner. It was a serendipitous arrival and meant that we could enjoy their company for dinner. Cheshire also invited her mentor, Eugene Gallager, who has been so important to her college career. Cheshire has found good teachers at each of her school. People who could inspire her, take care of her, and push her beyond her comfort zone. I am so proud of the student that she is and has grown to be.