Sitting on Grover Jones field for the final time, I pile what might be the last turf mound I will make at Collegiate. Started by former Head of School Keith Evans in 1999, Convocation has always followed the same traditions. Every year, excluding special years like the Centennial celebration last year, the head of school calls in the whole school. Starting with the 1st grade, they work up to the juniors and finish by calling in the seniors and their kindergarten buddies. In the last two years, the relatively new junior kindergarten has also been included in the gathering. After the whole school has congregated, the senior class presidents proceed to give speeches about their time at Collegiate while listeners are busy making turf piles, which are still feasible on the new turf. While most grades are excited about singing the alma mater or watching the fourth grade perform their dance, none are more excited than the kindergarteners and the seniors. After Convocation is over, Kindergarteners and seniors get to regroup and play for the rest of the day.
In all Convocations, the seniors and kindergarteners walk out together while the whole school watches. In the back of every other student’s mind are thoughts about what it will be like when that student is a senior. “Will my kindergartener like me?” “Will my kindergartner fall off my shoulders?” (Thankfully, no one’s did this year.) “What do we do with the kindergarteners?” Those are all questions that I asked myself leading up to September 16th, my final Convocation. One was answered before the 16th. On September 12th, the last Monday before Convocation, all of the seniors went to the football field, where most met their kindergartener for the first time. My initial feelings to this were similar to fellow seniors Will Hidell’s (‘17): “[I was a] little nervous because I was afraid the kid wouldn’t think I was cool.” Hidell’s thoughts in hindsight were also a good representation of my feelings. “He obviously didn’t [care] because he wanted to play with me.”
This was true for Luke, the kindergartener I was partnered with, too. He seemed to not care who I was or what I did; all of the kindergarteners were just excited to play with someone older and have fun. As people get older, they sometimes tend to get more cynical and judgmental by nature, and entering an environment free of criticism was refreshing. The only thing that mattered about someone to a kindergartener is if they were “it” during a game of tag, which was all we ended up doing. Noah Coleman (‘17) summed up the experience appropriately by saying, “I enjoyed it a lot. It was great and very sweaty.” While the humidity was disgusting and turf tends to just worsen heat, it was great, but unfortunately it was short lived. Bryce Ritter (‘17) thought, “[Playing with the kindergarteners] was good, but it should have been a little more organized, maybe a group activity or something.” Luckily for Ritter, the organization would come later in the week.
When Convocation was finally here, I thought the best part would be missing all but one class. While that was certainly a benefit, getting to hang out with Luke for the whole day was even better than the initial hour that we had with them on the Monday. Leaving directly after first period, the whole senior class started to make their way down to where many of us started our whole journey, at the Lower School. While much has changed, like new faces and buildings, the kindergarten building has mostly stayed the same: it has the same low ceilings and the same feeling of youth. As memories of my kindergarten years rushed back, our senior class started creating memories with the newest Collegiate Cougars. After finally finding the classroom I was supposed to be in, I found Luke sitting in a chair that looked too small to be made for a human. Trying to keep the kindergarteners occupied, the teachers told us to draw each other. Luke’s teacher, Pamela Lowe, made sure to say, “I’m pretty sure nobody’s hair is purple and skin is green,” trying to encourage accuracy. Luke decided to ignore this by grabbing a blue crayon and asking, “Do you mind if I draw your face blue?” Trying to keep with what the teacher said, I explained that I was not, in fact, blue. Luke’s response to this was to try and draw on me with his crayon to make his picture more accurate.
After we finished with drawing and playing with blocks, it was time to go down to the field. As our class set off to go to a first and last Convocation, some of us picked our kindergarteners up to put them on our shoulders. (A quick announcement: carrying someone on your shoulders for more than an hour is extremely hard work, so shout out to all the parents who did it all those years.) As we were walking onto the field for the last time, we were experiencing the moment every student looks forward to. We walked to the front of the field and dropped our kindergarteners off, but, to my surprise, we did not get to sit with them during Convocation. The next time we would meet up with them was after the ceremony was concluded.
After Convocation was finished, we regrouped with our kindergarteners and proceeded back to the Lower School, where we would spend the rest of the school day. The kindergarten teachers had little activities to do, like seniors reading to their kindergartener until lunch time, the last activity of the day. Luke chose I Spy, which does not really count as reading.
Having to part with Luke made one thing clear; him not wanting me to leave showed that he did not care what activities we did. The kindergarteners did not care about playing games or reading books; all they cared about was just getting to hang out with a senior. After this was clear to me, I realized that I, too, was happy to just hang out with a kindergartener. Even though I was older and probably can read a little better than Luke, he was the one that taught me a lesson. We should not care about what happens in life, we should just be happy that it did happen.
Featured image: Vlastik Svab.