Every year begins with Opening Convocation. The seniors lead their Kindergarten buddies into the School, literally and symbolically, when the entire K-12 student body convenes in the gymnasium on the Drake Campus. This is the first time the youngest students will be together with everyone and they are, understandably, a little nervous.
This is the big time. Processional music is playing, cameras are flashing and there is the rumble and murmur of a crowd of over a thousand.
The Kindergarten students enter our community, starting off on a momentous journey that will take them through childhood and into young adulthood, until they are as big as the seniors who are holding their hands.
After Convocation, the seniors take their buddies back to the Kindergarten classrooms and everyone gets to know each other over cookies. They will spend time together throughout the year and in the spring Kindergarten buddies will visit them on the Upper School campus for Kite Day and then Closing Convocation and the Maypole dance.
Kindergarten teacher Mary Adams says the Maypole Dance was how the K/Senior Buddies tradition began. “Pam Buck, Lea Hoppe and I started the Maypole Dance in 2000, when this year’s seniors were in Kindergarten. We needed the seniors to dance with the Kindergartners. My daughter, Libbie, was a senior that year and this year’s seniors were their Kindergarten Buddies. This has become a very special bond throughout the years with the Kindergarteners and the Seniors doing the Maypole Dance together. Marvin Chou '95 and the other P.E. teachers for Kindergarten coordinate the dance and teach them the dance together. I am really looking forward to this year and more memories of the graduating seniors and our new Kindergartners.”
Senior Elizabeth Moody, a lifer and the Student Government Association President, gave the welcoming address. "The experience is sort of funny looking back now, because I really wasn't nervous until the microphone didn't work for a minute! After that was fixed, everything went smoothly. Then it really made me feel better about the whole thing when afterwards my Kindergarten buddy had her little arms stretched out for a hug!"
Elizabeth began her remarks recalling the Opening Convocation of 2000, when she was “looking around at all of the new faces. Now those faces have become very familiar and a true part of my family that I cannot imagine not seeing every day! Everyone always says, ‘Enjoy each year while you can, 'cause time flies!’ Well, time doesn’t just fly, it puts on a jet pack and literally propels forwards at 100 miles per hour!”
Elizabeth’s Kindergarten teacher, Mary Adams, feels the same way. “This is my first Randolph Kindergarten class to be graduating,” she says. “It is wonderful to teach at a school where you can watch your students grow from Kindergarteners to Seniors. The icing on the cake is to have the Seniors I taught be Senior Buddies for the students in my class this year. It was so inspiring to listen to Elizabeth speak about when she was in Kindergarten. It brought tears to my eyes and a smile to know how these seniors have so many gifts and talents that they have only begun to tap.”
“Being so blessed to have been here for nearly 13 years,” Elizabeth said in her remarks that morning, “I have learned some Golden Rules of Randolph, but the only way to really share them is through a story.
And this is the story Elizabeth told at Convocation:
Once upon a time, the colors of the world began to fight with each other. Each claimed that they were the best, the most important, the most useful, the most beautiful or the favorite.
Green said, “I am the color of the trees and the grass, I keep everything alive!”
Blue interrupted, “But I am the color of the sky and the water, which is the basis of life!”
Yellow chuckled, “Y’all are so serious. I bring laughter and warmth with the yellow sun, to the moon and the stars! Without me, there would be no fun!”
Orange piped in, “I am the color of health and strength. I do not hang around all the time, but when I fill the sky at sunrise and sunset, I am ALL you can think about.”
Red couldn’t stand it anymore and shouted, “I am the ruler of all of you! I am life’s blood! I am also the color of passion and of looove.”
Purple then rose up and spoke with great pomp, “I am the color of power and royalty, people listen to me!”
Finally, Indigo spoke quietly and whispered, “I am the color of silence. I represent thought and reflection, balance and contrast, prayer and inner peace.”
Each uniquely wonderful color went on bragging and boasting until a FLASH of lightning and a BOOM of thunder consumed the sky. The rain poured down and said to the colors, “You silly colors, each thinking they are better than the other. Each of you was made for a special reason, all with different talents! Come together and listen to me! From now on when it rains, each of you will join together and stretch across the sky in a great bow of color. Do this as a simple reminder of peace and a sign of hope for tomorrow.
And so when a rainbow appears in the sky, let it remind us to appreciate one another. Randolph is such a diverse community, and we are all privileged to have our place on the rainbow! While one of us is a basketball star or a ballerina, always making the best grades or in a rock band, we all are here to learn and grow together! And if you are thinking you don’t fit in any of those places, just remember that every single one of us is important to make our 997-person rainbow of Randolph! So take advantage of the time we do have here, whether it is one year, 13 years or somewhere in between, to be the best son, daughter, friend, student or family member we can be!
In the spring, at Closing Convocation, the process is reversed. We gather on the Garth Campus. The Kindergarten students are bigger and sturdier. They have learned their way around, and completed the first leg of the journey. It is they who now take the hands of the seniors and lead them out of the school, towards graduation and beyond.