Graduation 2017


Five days later and I still can’t think about Friday without emotion.

It was a long day of ceremony, starting at 8 in the morning with a whole-school awards ceremony followed by Senior Class Day, where my resolve not to cry began to unstitch the moment I heard the first notes of music in the senior slideshow that H and Reshma put together.

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I’m quite sure I had tears in my eyes or on my cheeks from that moment until I sighed myself into bed that night.

Through the awards, the class will, the tributes to classmates and teachers.

Through the grey day that threatened rain in the morning but promised sun in the evening.


Through the parade of gowned students.


Through the birds flying overhead like some familiar metaphor.


Through the flower ceremony, when Reshma surprised us.


Through the special awards, when the school surprised us.


Through a perfect song.


Through the moment we had come for but still were somehow not prepared for.


Though the view of the mountains and the sun bouncing off the ragged clouds. And the people who love H there to celebrate together. And the white tent on a hill in front of the school we all called home for the last six years. And the full moon steadying itself to rise.

It was a day that “marked the edge / of one of many circles.” Circles of H’s life, looping over each other, opening out to the next. Circles of our lives, once centered together and now beginning to drift, still overlapping, but no longer entirely concentric with hers.

It was a day of crows calling out and the gentlest raindrops and the hidden movement of stars overhead. The ending of one thing and the beginning of so much more, I can hardly catch my breath.


p.s. You can see all the photos I took during class day and graduation here.

Saying goodbye to the little school on the hill

Open Fields School is a special little elementary school on the hill. It’s as near to a one-room school house as you can find around here. Most years, the school’s population comprises about 20 students — kindergarten through sixth grade — three teachers, and Woody, the school dog.

OFS graduation - Woody Guthrie Wheaton

Open Fields is a school that encourages independent learning, imaginative play, a general love of learning, and cooperation and interaction between all students. In the winter, the whole school goes sledding on the big hill nearby. In warm weather, everyone is out in the field, playing capture the flag and freeze tag, or one of dozens of games they make up themselves (Warrior Cats, dragons, ice sculptures…). Little ones and big ones, they’re all in it together, both on the swing set and in the classroom. The big kids read books to the little ones, and the little ones idolize the big ones.

Hyla was a little one once, falling in love with sixth grade girls who were kind enough to spend time with her. This year, she was the one reading books to the kindergarteners.

OFS graduation - Friends meet on the battlefield

In the seven years that Hyla attended Open Fields, I can’t remember a day when she didn’t want to go to school. She loves that place. We all do. It did right by us. We have a happy girl who loves learning, adores reading, is not afraid to question her teachers or other adults, and is socially at ease with all sorts of people.

Last Friday, Hyla and her fellow sixth-graders graduated from the school on the hill.

OFS graduation - Banner

In spite of threatening weather forecasts, we had a hot, sunny day. The families picnicked in the yard, the kids ran around, and then the graduating class took its place at the swing set. The ceremony was sweet and to the point: they have learned and grown so much; they have contributed as much to the school as they have received; and they will be missed.

OFS graduation - Graduated

Not half as much as we will miss you, Open Fields. Thank you, thank you, thank you for everything you’ve given us. It was all just about exactly as we had dreamed it would be.

OFS graduation - Our grown-up girl