I had not been to a Randolph Commencement since 1983, when my brother, John David, graduated in the Rhett Fine Arts Center. This May, the outside ceremony, with a pasture of cows behind us and the 90-degree weather, more than reminding me of John David’s event in ’83 or my own high school graduation of 400 students in the Civic Center in ’85, took me back to Virginia and my college graduation and put me in a reflective frame of mind.
It will be a few years until my own children, Tindall ’15 and Huston ’18, graduate, but I was excited to be present, as I have known several of the graduates since they were babies. My daughter, Tindall, also wanted to come to see several of her friends and softball teammates at their graduation.
Watching both Elizabeth Moody and Kaitlyn Janssen up on stage addressing the audience was very special for me. I have watched them grow up into well-spoken, confident, poised young women. Listening to both of them, I was struck by a common theme – “Randolph Family.” They both made several references to this and I certainly share their feelings. That is what we are ALL a part of here – the Randolph family.
One of my favorite parts of Commencement was when the faculty joined the students in the choir. I loved that Coach Guth, who is brand new to the Randolph community, took part. I even asked someone if this was some kind of initiation for new faculty and she told me, “No, Eddie just wanted to do it and be a part of our family.”
This community is more than teachers and students at a school. I did not fully appreciate this years ago as a Randolph student myself, but I certainly do now. I felt this 10 years ago when Tindall started Kindergarten. It was great to be back and see so many familiar faces from my time here—Nancy Hodges, Kim Simpson, Steve McGuffey, Betty Crutcher. Several of my Randolph classmates, as well as my brother, now send their children here. I really did feel that I was back with family.
At the end of the year, my son, Huston, was awarded the 6th grade Ruth Wright Social Studies Award. Ms. Wright, who was my 6th grade social studies teacher and is now retired, called our house to congratulate Huston on the award. This sense of connection permeates each level of my family’s experience at the School. My children get the sense of love and nurturing, which I felt when I was here. When a teacher or coach lets them know they really care about them and not just the grade, that makes the children strive to do better.
It is so worth it to us that our children can be here. We have watched them become a part of the Randolph family. This is a great place to learn and grow. Everyone is studying and working and applying themselves. “It’s cool to be smart” is a common phrase many of the kids say, but what they really mean is that it is “cool” to do your best!" That’s the norm. The kids are not doing it for us, but for themselves. That is a great atmosphere to be exposed to.
Being at Commencement only confirmed that sense of pride I have in our School. Once a member of the Randolph family, always a member. How lucky are we to be a part of this special community. It was like watching things come full circle. I know that in a blink of an eye, Tindall and Huston will be up there, too.