Commencement 2011

Today was Woodstock’s senior class graduation ceremony for the 2011 batch. The class’ name is Luminescence, and their colours are white, black and a teal-ish sort of blue. They also have a symbol of a phoenix – I rather like the graphic. Adam taught a number of them (albeit not a significant majority) in his English classes this year. I was really impressed by the students during the ceremony for a variety of reasons; they were put “on display”, given the rather small number of them (compared to a public school experience), and were front-and-centre. In my graduation, we weren’t tiered… just one seething mass of green-and-white caps and gowns in the gym. These ladies and gents were dressed much more nicely – everyone in suits and saris.

One of the things I found rather entertaining was the subtle replication of behaviours, probably unconscious, as they waited throughout the ceremony.  Yawns echoed in a wave across the crowd, giggles spread, and even feet seemed to hold the same placement. I can  remember a beach ball going around my graduation (until the ceremony started), and then it was just loads of gossiping.

The woman who gave the graduation address was actually not the person who was expected to – Adam and I somehow did not get a program (sadly) so I cannot spell the woman’s name. The woman who gave the address is an alumna of Woodstock (graduated last year in 2010) and she is the granddaughter of the woman who had been expected to come–however, as they were at the airport, a phone call with tragic personal news (her husband being moved to ICU and perhaps dying), she returned back to the US, and her granddaughter took over the role of commencement speaker. Certainly an unenviable task! She read the speech her grandmother had prepared, and had an aside of her own, and it was exceedingly well done.

There were also a handful of performances – Western Classical music, Indian Classical music, and a song by the Advanced Choir, Staff Choir, and accompaniment by some of the students in the orchestra (advanced?). The Indian Classical piece was played by a graduating student and one of the music teachers, and had been composed by the music teacher. It was a really nice piece, and I think I’d be curious about trying to pick up playing the sitar… I know Adam’s intrigued by it.

It took about two and a half hours, and Adam and I were standing for most of it, as we got there shortly before the doors closed… but went the wrong way to get seats. Sigh. Better luck next year! This year, our delay was mostly my fault – I wanted to wear my nice Benarisi silk sari, and didn’t want to screw it up, so I asked for help, and between the help and breakfast, we ran long.  However, we managed, I think, to end up being a presentable pair. I was bedecked with borrowed jewellery for earrings & necklace, but… not so shabby.
It was interesting to see the number of students who were in tears at leaving. I guess it’s harder being at a boarding school – you simply never know when you’ll see these other people again. One student had been at Woodstock for his entire educational career, and he was, understandably, one of the most distraught. There were some grade 10 kids who were wrecks because their basketball captain (grade 12) was leaving… I think more boys than girls were in tears.

All the graduates have departed Woodstock by now – any ones staying on are either local students or have worked out an arrangement somehow with someone to stick around for a bit (I know at least one). The next few weeks have Woodstock at less than 500 students… and we’ll see how things pick up the next year!

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