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.

Baccalaureate 2017


They assembled on the green on Thetford Hill for a group photo on Sunday evening in blue and white robes (according to their taste), then went into the church two by two.

The program of events had Hyla giving her speech right after the processional, so up she went and hushed the crowd with her words. As her parents, we can’t help but be a little biased, but we thought it was a beautiful speech.

I didn’t cry then, not much anyway. In fact, I almost felt a little numb: very still, very quiet inside, just absorbing the moment and the room, the dull grey light of the drizzly June evening somehow turning gold as it came through the large windows, the words of our daughter spinning out across the hall, from her brain to her lungs to her larynx to her mouth to our ears to our brains to our memories.

You know when I cried? It was when members of the school band got up and played The Carpenters’ “We’ve Only Just Begun.” Not so much for the meaning of the song itself (isn’t it a wedding song?), but because, as songs do, it acted as a worm hole that sucked me back through time to my own childhood, to a moment when I put that very record on my record player.

How did we get from childhood me, alone in a house in the western suburbs of Chicago, to an old wooden church on a hill in Thetford, Vermont, watching our seventeen-year-old daughter confidently take the podium in front of her entire class, her teachers, her friends, her parents? How did all of this happen so slowly and so quickly? How do I have my childhood and hers in my memories all at once?

We were sitting in the church where her preschool still is, kitty corner from her elementary school, a short walk from her middle and high school. Time and geography and memory felt so tightly bound up in those moments last night. The past, the present, and the future. How it was. How it is.  How it will be.

Splendid is how it was. Splendid is how it is. Splendid is how it will be.


Grape vines

Processional Speech


Breathe. Hope. Love.


p.s. If you’re interested, you can hear a recording of Hyla’s speech, or read it. And, here also, is the Baccalaureate speech given by Kelly Welsh, one of H’s favorite teachers.


Monday morning

Foggy, overcast Monday morning.

The long-planned-for weekend is twelve hours behind us.

The delightful guests of the weekend have left for home. We don’t see them often enough, and parting is always softly sad.

We ate well, laughed a lot, sang a lot. We celebrated a birthday with cake.

Cake cut

The musical H and her schoolmates have been preparing for all semester is over.

She lost her voice after the first show, but went on in spite of that, mouthing the words, playing her part, happy to be there and sad to be silent on a stage full of song.

Les Mis

The lead roles were mostly filled by seniors who are right now making their plans to leave this rural nest.

We’re not their parents, but on closing night we still felt a tinge of that bittersweet tug, knowing we were seeing the last of something. In four years, that will be H, singing her last song on that stage, and then, of course, we will be puddles.

We had a wonderful weekend. Monday marches on.

And this song seems kind of perfect today.

What is Urinetown?

It’s a blast.

It’s a satirical musical.

It’s about politics, greedy corporations, and needy masses. It’s about the 99% and the 1%. It’s about sustainability and controlling scarce resources.


It’s very dark.


It’s very funny.


It’s got great dances and catchy songs, sideways glances and evil doings.



It’s a lot of work.

It’s 40+ students, from seventh graders to high school seniors.

It’s musicians, technical folk, stage hands, teachers, and community members.

It’s rehearsals every school day for nearly five months , plus some weekends and evenings.

It makes you cry, and laugh.

It’s very worth sitting through three showings in a row.

If it’s your first speaking and singing role in a full-length musical, I’d venture to guess it’s unforgettable.

Urinetown program, shirt, and poster

Note: This video is not from the Thetford Academy production, but is a great performance of one of our favorite songs in the show.

If you have the time and interest, you can see about 1400 photos taken on opening night by Dan Grossman, Thetford resident and photographer, here.