Convocation: Strange Symmetry

Posted by Rebecca Moore - 15 August, 2017

This week, the Classes of 2018 and 2030 will participate in Opening Convocation. Convocation marks the beginning and the conclusion of the Randolph journey, and is one of the School's beloved traditions. In the spring of 2011, Senior Class President Lima Temple, now a medical student at UAB, addressed the K-12 community and special guests at Closing Convocation. Lima's remarks, which follow, describe this event and its emotions so well, we wanted to reshare it.

Join us backstage, right before the seniors and their buddies enter the gym, via Facebook Live, at 9:55 on Thursday morning, August 17.

Carolina Temple: In 1988, Robert Fulghum published a book of short essays entitled All I Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten. I never fully understood the truth in the title until this year. It initially hit me back in August when the senior class first got to meet our Kindergarten buddies in the hour before Opening Convocation.

The Class of 2011 is one of the smallest in the school since Randolph has grown so much to fit its newly expanded campus, but because there are only 38 kindergartners to match up with 64 seniors, 43 of whom are boys, these activities tend to get very loud very fast.

Our first meeting was no exception. There we were in Mrs. Baggette's classroom, each senior stuffed into one of those ridiculously small, but very cute, chairs, each kindergartner stuffed between his two giant senior buddies, all of whom were fighting over crayons, giggling at each others' drawings, posing for countless photos when, all of a sudden, the lights were cut off.

To the giddy seniors under the influence of five-year-olds, the lack of being able to see was just a peripheral detail and the mayhem continued, but to the kindergartners, lights off meant looking at the teacher, no talking, and an index finger pressing your lips together to make sure of it.

We seniors eventually understood and, embarrassed, our voices trailed off into silence, our eyes sheepishly found Mrs. Baggette's, and I'm pretty sure I saw Hayden Rathel raise his index finger to his mouth. We all re-learned rule number one: no talking while the teacher is talking.

We (and our parents) put thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours, tens of years into a Randolph education, which crafts five-year-olds into powerful young men and women who will lead the world. So what happens in between the first Convocation in Kindergarten and the last one in our senior year? Obviously the effort and hard work go somewhere: they make sure we know our colors, then our multiplication tables, then the Preamble of the Constitution, and Shakespearean sonnets. What makes all this into a coherent vehicle for success is common sense, passion, friendship, and discipline—perfected in Kindergarten, but forgotten in places along the way.

Until, for the Class of 2011, right now.

There is a strange symmetry around which the phenomenon of a Randolph education is constructed. In Kindergarten, you learn to take turns, to raise your hand, to treat your neighbors as you want to be treated. You love your teacher and can't wait to braid her hair or sit in her lap during storytime. Then kindergarten is over, and all these rules start unraveling, and fast. My twin brothers, Matthew and Jackson, are in the sixth grade, and they are living proof of this. They do run with scissors, and hate sharing almost as much as they love fighting for the front seat.

But something happens senior year. You turn back into your Kindergarten self.

You hug your friends more, you cry more, and sometimes you just want your parents to tuck you in. You re-learn the value of a friendship and all you really want is love and attention. You forget how frustrated you got when you missed American Idol or Glee to study for a calculus test. You cherish every minute with your friends, your teachers, your mentors, with the same enthusiasm as you did when they were brand new to you, and discover that you follow the rules without trying (which gets scary).

You learn that missing something before it is gone isn't that different from loving something before you have it.

When Mr. Cobbs offered to teach us about the evolution of language after our last day of school, he had a full classroom who insisted he have two more follow-up lessons, which is like our own way of braiding Mr Cobbs' hair. In other words: we chose to spend those first precious hours of summer, typically spent basking in the sun or recovering from finals, here at school learning about Proto-Indo-European with Mr. Cobbs.

Imagine Matthew and Jackson's faces when I told them I was going back to do some classes "for fun."

Robert Fulghum tells us that the well-versed kindergartner knows that you can't take what isn't yours, you treat your neighbor as you wish to be treated, you have to clean up your own mess. When you go out into the world, you must look out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together. At the appropriate times we must say excuse me, please, and thank you.

So, to all the teachers, counselors, administrators, coaches, and staff, please excuse my class for having 40-something demerits in our first quarter of eighth grade. Please forgive us and let that not be our defining moment anymore. Thank you for showing patience, encouragement, support and love during that long stretch from kindergarten to senior year and for teaching my grade what is important in life—our dreams, the people we love—and for teaching us to never let them go.

To everyone in the Randolph community, I encourage you to look back on the simplest things you learned to answer the most difficult questions that you will encounter in the future. Never lose sight of what will be most important to you in the end, and never let the details that lie in between make you falter. Love your friends, let your friends love you, and keep an open mind and an open heart, because you never know who will teach you the lessons that shape who you are, sometimes it may be a kindergartner.

In addition to being Class President, Lima was a member of the Student Government Association and the Youth Leadership Council. She was a varsity volleyball player throughout her Upper School career. Outside of school she was president of the Huntsville Hospital Foundation Leadership Council. 

Topics: 12th grade, 6th grade, character, Kindergarten, teachers, traditions


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