Finding the Art in Everything

28 March, 2008


I had my last Youth in Government meeting last night with my officers. We selected a new group last night, but more than a step forward, these elections marked my first great loss of this graduating class. This is my first senior goodbye--and I am heartsick. I think maybe I am not supposed to be this bothered by their departure.

This sentiment probably betrays my age. This is my first set of seniors I have known all four years. I even had a few of them, in one form or another, since they were freshman. Furthermore, these four years have been the only four I have ever worked out of school--and ironically it has been in one. Sometimes I notice I have followed the same coming-of-age path in my teaching career--freshman, sophomore, junior, and with my move to MVA, sophomore again. I don't feel I'll reach senior anytime soon, because I will still be in school while they move on.

Last night was the first time I had to come to terms with the fact that these kids--who represent significant time and effort and love and dedication over the last few years--are leaving. I tried to console myself by thinking that my attachment, and therefore sense of loss, was a function of this post-university-in-high school-first-job-ever circumstance. Unfortunately, I don't think this is it.
Perhaps I am missing the protective detachment that comes with experience, but I doubt even that would overcome the affection I have for these students who are going to be great people.

Christina, my secretary-turned-vice-president, is one of the first students I ever had. I taught her first period her freshman year and kept track of her since. She is--truly--always up for anything, and those who follow her are sprinting to keep up. She has this insurmountable enthusiasm which blazes through the most boring tasks. Combined with her startling ferocity, her sense of humor makes participants out of the most unwilling. If anyone needs a cold glass of truth thrown in his face, it will likely come from her.

Casey, my chapter president, is an extraordinary young woman. She has this deep conviction to her principles and an unwavering moral compass. She speaks directly and truthfully (if not a little painfully sometimes) but her relationships are marked by a tender loyalty. I have met few people who understand as well how to be a true servant leader. She leads like Jesus did--really--where she makes friends and family out of her followers and makes serving them more important than any preservation of power. When I watch her work, I am so proud of her.

I am looking forward to training a new set of officers, because like Legos, the act of building something is more meaningful than the thing itself. But I can't picture what Youth in Government will be without these girls who have been my whole experience.

Likewise, what will I do when some of my most precious seniors graduate from MVA? Heavier than the weight of normal goodbyes is the loss of those people who have defined my whole experience here. My time has been short, sure, but it has been my whole time.

I keep thinking that this is only a microscopic version of what parents must feel, which gives me a great appreciation for those people who found themselves signed up for that.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Teaching my students gave me new respect for my former teachers.

Letting go of my students gave me new respect for my parents.

We will grieve them. It's catch-and-release. I don't know any other advice, for I'm not fully past the class of 2007, and it's been nearly a year. Will we grow immune with more exposure? I don't know. Will we want to?