Just about anyone who witnesses a Goddard graduation walks away thinking it was unlike any graduation they ever saw before. That's because each of our students is, in effect, his or her own valedictorian, sharing his/her story of finding a focus of study of great meaning individually and communally. During a typical graduation, often held in the winter in the Haybarn, a grand old theatre, or during beautiful summer days, in the garden, surrounded by lilies and pines, we of course begin with a speech, or in the case of this last February, a commencement performance by Bread and Puppet during which time, many graduates, students and faculty got to take flight.
Then instead of graduates streaming across a stage, the stories begin. Each graduate is presented by a faculty member, who tells the tale of how this study came into being, what it meant for the graduate, what it means for us, and how it can help change the world in some vital way. The graduate then gets to make his/her own speech, which may entail everything from crying and laughing while thanking a list of family, friends and faculty to playing wooden flute to leading everyone in a sweet old folksong. But in just about every speech and for just about every graduate, we hear how this degree is life-changing, helping students find their callings, do something they didn't think they were capable of, and finding a new way to energize their life, shape their work, and find greater life, spirit, connection and joy.
Graduation is nestled into a weekend of activities, bringing together graduating students along with continuing and new ones, with plenty of time for improntu jam sessions, the student-faculty reading, presentations by graduating students on what they studied that often are some of the most inspiring and mind-blowing moments of all, and lots of time for people to share experiences, encourage one another, and build community.
All photos from February, 2009 graduation weekend.