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A short tribute to the Grinnell College class of 2020 (#1031)

Topics/tags: Grinnell, short

A few days ago, Grinnell made the sensible decision to send most of our students home for the rest of the semester and to hold classes online [1]. One major impact of this decision is that the Grinnell College class of 2020 is unlikely to have a normal graduation.

Yesterday, I received a note asking for a short tribute recording to the class, which they expected to play at a gathering to celebrate the class of 2020 [2]. Rather than ad lib the tribute, I decided to write down what I expected to say. And what better place than in a musing? I’ll almost certainly write longer tributes, both to the class of 2020 and to the CS class of 2020. But those will come at the normal graduation time, in the middle of May.

For now, here are a few sentences.

Dear Grinnell class of 2020. You are among the most special Grinnell classes to me for a whole host of reasons none of which I will list. During the not-quite-four years that you have been here, I have found you thoughtful, wise, frustrating, inquisitive, friendly, infuriating, amazing, insightful, challenging, smart (incredibly smart), frustrating [3], supportive, similar and different, engaged and engaging, independent and interdependent, and oh so much more. That is to say, you have been and will continue to be Grinnellians. Thank you! [Please insert a joke or trite saying about how the class of 2020 sees clearly.] Good luck in these strange last few weeks of the semester and please stay in touch.

Not perfect. I hope it will do. It’s a bit cheesy, but it’s much less cheesy than the two examples we were given. And I think it reflects who I am [4] and how I think about the class. Ralph would probably suggest that I explore the rhythm a bit more, but I don’t feel up to that task.

Postscript: I think you can find the video at

Postscript: Finding good places to record in a hotel is hard. There’s a bit of background noise in my video. C’est la vie. At least there’s this script/transcript. And written trumps spoken, right?

Postscript: As we think about alternatives to graduation, it strikes me that a JibJab-style animation, where you can fill in your face, could be a useful bit of levity. I wonder if one of our majors, such as PK, might put something together.

[1] I’ll write more about these issues in separate posts.

[2] As I started this musing, I received a note that the in-person event was canceled for safety reasons. I expect these tributes will end up residing on a server somewhere and will be distributed to students remotely.

[3] Yeah, it’s worth mentioning twice.

[4] That is, my jokes are as moldy as bleu cheese.

Version 1.0 of 2020-03-13.