Bodie's Vantage Points

This is Your Season

Volume XV, Issue 6

The following shares Head of School Bodie Brizendine's send-off words to the Class of 2022
at Commencement on May 26, 2022. 

Dear Class of 2022,
 
There’s a special place in my heart as I share these words with you at this special threshold moment. Not only in the heart of COVID did you help me lead by keeping school, by making sure that we still came together, by finding joy and purpose, often without a hallway, a lobby, a favorite couch, but you also let me share this paused-in-the-doorway space with you. As a proud honorary member of the Class of 2022, I join you in the moment of passing through those Red Doors, and I will never forget our class, the Class of 2022. Thank you all.
 
But the truth of this moment, seniors (and this is the last time I can call you that) is all yours, and it is a big one. The psalm “There Is A Season” is right. “There is a time for everything, and a season for everything under the heavens.” And this is your time: time to leave the Red Doors, time to leave high school and time to set forth in a new and different way. Indeed there is a season: turn, turn, turn. This, Class of 2022, is your season.
 
But a second truth here today is that the sense of an ending is usually colored with a sense of a beginning, no matter the context of that turning. Farewell will always be richly entangled with hello.

Every one of these turns adds an element of perspective and opportunity. Leaving holds, as literary critic Edward Hirsch says, the power of the “clarifying light of last things.” Sometimes as you get ready to walk away from something, you just plain understand it better and more deeply.
 
So, place and memory stand as stays against forgetting, and both will live within as you move forward. Cutting and pasting the stories you take with you as you leave, make luminous with time all the things that made you who you are, not only right now, but also in the days ahead.
 
Actually, one of you recognized this when you wrote to me at the senior retreat. “The most important thing Spence has taught me,” you wrote, “is to ask questions. Ask questions about things you know, things you don’t know, things you want to know and things you don’t want to know. My questions started with, how do I spell ‘dog?,’ and later became, what does Toni Morrison mean by this metaphor? But the one question Spence cannot answer for me is ‘Who am I?’ And more importantly, ‘who will I be when I leave Spence?’ At my core, I am a Spence girl. My childhood is colored by the print of my checkered jumper and rings with the sound of the song Skinnamarink that we sang at our Kindergarten concert. It’s been designed by the warm smiles of my teachers, the tight embrace of my best friend on the first day of school…It is scary to think that I won’t enter the lunchroom on Thursday to smell freshly baked cupcakes or laugh with my friends in the commons. Who will I become? How will I change? I don’t know the answers, but the future holds them…and when they come, I’ll be ready.”
 
You will be, and the rest of the Class of 2022 along with you. You just don’t know about the “ready for what” quite yet.  
 
Wallace Stevens wrote about the “exhilaration of change,” and my mother, a poet in her own way, said “you’ll learn something new every day.” They are both right: change is exhilarating, and in that “not for school” fashion, you truly will learn something new every single day. Just count those things up at the end of the day. You’ll be amazed.
 
And while you’re at it, I recommend being thrown off course sometimes, getting a little lost, like Alice down that rabbit hole, all the while knowing that whatever the path––you’re ready…oh, boy are you ready. Poet John Koethe reminds us that, “each year is homework for the next.” And all of you, Class of 2022, have done your homework! And while you’re exploring, learning something new every day, exhilarated with the wonder of it all, we’ll be here watching and cheering you on…always and forever.
 
And as we say farewell, it is with a great and a wide sense of gratitude, that we send you off as new members in our illustrious community of alumnae across the world. And it is with a catch in my throat that I share with you for the last time words from Clara Spence, herself. She wrote in 1915, “Love is life and the more love we have, the more abundant is the life.”
 
So, go, Class of 2022: go with that love, go with that abundance of life and go with those memories and the strength of Spence folded deeply in your back pocket…always.

Godspeed, Class of 2022.
 
This is the final installment of Bodie's Vantage Points. We invite you to view the full archive of Vantage Points.


YOU CAN ORDER YOUR COPY OF THE VANTAGE POINTS BOOK, BEING PUBLISHED IN HONOR OF BODIE BRIZENDINE'S RETIREMENT, VIA THIS LINK.

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