I know, weird title right? The rest of the world sees the year as January to December. For those of us in education, the end of the year comes in May or June. It comes with banquets and shows and traditions. Commencements and closings and charity events. Tears and letters and hugs. I wrote this over 5 years ago, about my memories of spring at Dickinson:
Just some thoughts on Spring at Dickinson….
Spring. Always so full of anticipation. For the summer. For the coming school year. There are certain songs that speak to you even more clearly in the spring. The sun blinds you when it bounces off the limestone. I remember the residence halls had a sort of headiness to them, a smell of getting ready to accept ballerinas and CTY kids. Waking up to the smell of fresh cut grass wafting through your windows if you lived on Morgan field. Staying up late on a blanket to watch the stars come out. Eating lunch out on the grassy knoll in the HUB plaza. Forgoing socks and sometimes even shoes to walk place to place. The rush of cool air as you walked into East, the stones cool against your feet after the heat of the bricks outside. Classes in circles, taking over Adirondack chairs and the shade from the big trees. Hanging out on the steps of Old West late at night, dreaming about walking down the steps, dreaming about the future. Walking to Massey’s en masse with your floor to get the first cone of the warm season. Making your mother drive you there the night after graduation because you couldn’t leave Dickinson without one more sundae from there. Banquets in the Depot that spill out onto the banks of the goldfish pond with its “evolutionary” steps. Daffodils are everywhere you look. That tree on the academic quad that smells so bad is in full bloom and people rush underneath it to avoid the smell. The seniors drink bad beer at events where they speak to people they haven’t seen since freshmen year. The Cubiculo is lit up every weekend with a show, some good, some bad, some spectacular. It always smells of fresh paint and programs litter the stairs and the street outside. Awards are given, some deserved, others not. We show up to watch tappings, initiations into secret organizations. The MP’s come from all corners of campus in full costume to a night of memories on the stage of Mathers. Boys and girls who were together for four years begin to decide whether their lives will continue together or veer off in opposite directions. Seniors interview, looking for the perfect job to show off their liberal arts education. English majors spend endless nights hunched over computers, perfecting their 35+ pages. The sound of people laughing in the dark, playing manhunt, throwing Frisbees, playing kickball lulls you to sleep. The Upper Quads has a permanent wiffleball field. The president prepares his commencement speech and seniors start the week long party that is senior week. There are chairs as far as you can see on the academic quad. The lights wound around the trees in the HUB plaza make it look like fairy land. Commencement arrives rain or shine. The MP’s scream for their members, cowbell ringing wildly. The professors line up to say goodbye, pulling aside their favorite students for hugs and extra tears. Best friends sob in each other’s arms, parents pulling them away to take pictures in front of Benjamin Rush, on the steps, to go to brunch. Graduates fly by, gowns open, tears flowing as they say goodbye to everyone they can find in the heat, the rain, the sun. Campus is quiet when everyone is gone. The flowers are not quite as bright, the dorms look unhappy to be unoccupied. Spring at Dickinson is pulsing, full of light. It is the best time of the year.
No matter where I go, those memories stick with me and give me a lens to see my own students experiences. Closing is stressful for me here because of Spring Give ‘n Go…I never really get emotional because I’m so focused on getting things done. This usually results in a night like last night where I sat on the couch and finally cried after posting commencement photos on Facebook. This year was particularly hard…it always hurts to say goodbye to my seniors, but I was also cautiously saying goodbye to my underclassmen. We’re hoping that some opportunities pan out this summer and that we’ll be moving. No matter what happens though, I know that I will always have a love/hate relationship with this time of year. And I will always, always, always treasure every moment I have with my students. They make this work worth it every day.