Steamboat Mountain School's 66th Graduating Class
By: Jed Donnel
Seeing the various senior events on campus over the weekend was to experience what Samantha noted in her Commencement remarks as a “consciousness of liminality.” In the two days following their last classes, and before their first Monday as alumni, the seniors joined the SMS community for a series of celebrations and culminations. Samantha referenced author Susan Cain’s consideration of such liminal spacing as the convergence of emotions: longing coupled with joy and nostalgia with anticipation, each side of both pairs balancing the other as profound context for the present. On Saturday morning, the seniors delivered their capstone presentations, the culmination of a year’s extracurricular work for which they pursued a unique interest, proposed a final outcome, reshaped their intentions, researched specific evidence within their field of study, conducted interviews with relevant experts, wrote a formal paper, reshaped their ideas again, developed a deliverable, and finally presented an overview of their work and received questions from an audience. The results were informative and symbolic, simultaneously evidencing the array of their potentials and representing how far they have come in their progress as students. In the evening, faculty and parents celebrated the seniors over an amazing dinner and dessert spread, which featured sumptuous cuisine accented by poetry and philosophical retrospection from Cody and Margi, respectively, followed by lovingly jesting predictions for the graduates’ futures from Gina, Brian, Kaiti, and Gilbo. When dinner ended, we all adjourned outside where the seniors selected their own spot on the Alumnus Tree of Honor to place their specific namesake, and then they moved to the courtyard for a last reading — already well-known but now infused with newfound meaning — before they rang the bell for the last time as students and invited the rising seniors into the perspective they had just left behind. Sunday was Commencement, aptly named for a ceremony of new beginnings. Samantha’s remarks centered on the graduating class as a collection of fluid individualities akin to a flamenco dance in its multi-layered colors and cadences. Then, EJ Oppenheimer, class of ’03, delivered the address in which he contextualized the amazing permaculture work he’s currently doing to impact sustainability of food production in Tanzania with heartfelt reminiscence of how his experience as an SMS student undeniably established his perspective for the present and future. Per tradition, individual faculty members then read personalized presentations for each graduate, revealing in their own unique styles their personal connections to the recipients. Following the faculty,the graduates, former seniors, recessed outward asalumni, to mingle in their joy with parents and friends amid the opalescent hues of a gorgeous afternoon. They will forever have a second home here on campus, and we wish them safe travels in the unfolding pathways of their further discoveries.