Originally published in The Weekly Packet, June 19, 2014
Brooklin’s Class of 2014 receives lots of praise and advice, as well as awards, at their graduation
by Bette Britt
There were five members of Brooklin’s eighth grade class who took places on the stage Friday, June 13: Justin Betts, Leigh Brooks, Dylan Cole, Lindsay Nevin and Ava Sealander. Compared to most area schools, the Class of 2014 was small but, as the program progressed, those attending graduation on a rainy night smiled up at the young people with appreciation and pride.
Each of the five spoke about things of importance to them as they’d gone through school. All seemed grateful for the experience, but the appearance of five real wood doors, each one painted and decorated by a student on the stage, was a reminder that it was time to move on. The class had no lofty motto: it was simply “Doors,” the things they’d walk through in leaving the Brooklin School gym for the last time as grade school students. There’d be many more doors in their lives.
While the Brooklin eighth grade students seemed poised and ready, Ellen Booraem, author and guest speaker who teaches a creative writing class at the school, introduced the five as “an exceptional group…smart and talented.” She added, “I don’t think I’ve ever walked into their classroom without being greeted enthusiastically, listened to respectfully, and thanked when I left. If they keep that up, all doors will open.”
Then she refined her subject while explaining how “joyfully and instinctively this class works together” by detailing what she called the Game of Prunes, the unique and extended way students collaborated on plotting a colorful story which included a character addicted to prune juice. Booraem likened this to her own career as an author of children’s books, “banding together to write about our genre and market our books,” but her final words were to the “smart, creative, funny, polite and energetic graduates…(who) can work together—for fun or the general good—and to my mind that’s as inspiring as anything.”
Principal Halina Nawrot introduced the theme chosen by the Class of 2014, “Doors,” and illustrated her remarks with quotes from notable others, such as Graham Greene who wrote, “There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.” That prompted the school principal to indicate she has seen such a moment with her own eyes, in that school, making her sometimes realize that she can stop worrying “terribly” about a particular student. “As a lover of learning, I firmly believe education is a key which will open doors. Some. But not all,” acknowledged Nawrot, reminding listeners that opening and closing figurative doors every day “will help shape the lives you lead.” Her talk ended with words of advice from Mehmet Murat Ildan, “Life is a house with a million doors—open the doors, open as many as you can. Open the doors,” echoed Nawrot.
Awards presented to the Class of 2014 began with books for each graduate from the Brooklin Keeping Society. The NCTE Promising Young Writers Program Award went to Ava Sealander, while the Lee Clark Allen Art Award went to Lindsay Nevin. Sealander also received the Brooklin Education Award and the Music Achievement Award. The Brooklin School Award for the student who has demonstrated willingness and openess to explore all of the opportunities offered at the school, including academic areas, sports, music, drama, art and leadership went to Lindsay Nevin. The class gift to the Brooklin School was to have the school sign by the main road painted during the summer.
Refreshments and a Class of 2014 slide show prepared by Katherine Nevin and Amy Bebell rounded out the evening at Brooklin School.