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Scenes from Graduation Weekend 2017

Rather than attempt a coherent musing, in this piece I report on a variety of experiences from the start of weekend.

Honor G Ceremony. AD Hamilton says The coaches will not talk in any detail about individual players, so that we can get through the ceremony in a reasonable amount of time. At least two coaches ignore his instructions [1]. In contrast, Evelyn Freeman instructs the crowd on exactly how to behave as she reads the names of her players. Tim Holibaugh finds a wonderful middle ground; he gives a short, funny introduction to each player as he says their name. In spite of Andy’s attempt to keep the ceremony short, it still lasts two hours.

Sitting in class, giving a final. A text message arrives. Hey Sam, this is an alum. Do you think it’s going to rain on graduation and, if so, will they live stream from the field house? I write back I hope not. And they live stream no matter what. I also pass along the URL.

Vocal concert. I realize that Noteworthy is about 2/3 math or CS majors. I also realize that I haven’t seen them perform and I have two graduating seniors in the group, along with few other seniors I care a lot about [3]. Think to myself, I really should find more time to go to the a cappella groups.

Honor G Ceremony. Watch some of my majors walk across the stage. Realize that I never made it to any games by one of them. Think to myself, I really should find more time to go to more student events. Remind myself that my children have priority, and I don’t have enough time for everything.

Home, chatting with family. Eldest says, Dad, did you know that a group of students are forming an advisory board for you? I assumed that this was for the fundraising that they now plan to do. But no, students have decided that I need an advisory board through which all requests must go. Their job? To say No for me. I remind Eldest that I don’t like bureaucracy [4,5].

CS Commons. I’ve just brought in the food for the senior breakfast [6]. I look around and realize that the commons is even messier than my office. Students who were doing jigsaw puzzles left the pieces all over the place [7]. A student had started a project to help relieve stress by leaving out crayons and coloring pages. But the pages and crayons are still out. The sink is filled with dishes. And we have the Pledge of the Computing Professional tomorrow morning. Resolve to come back after Vocal concert.

Sitting in class, giving a final. Another text message arrives. Sam, people will understand it if someone says Is this Heaven? I say I’d assume so, but let me check. I ask about a dozen students and some younger faculty. I even add the No, it’s Iowa. I get blank looks from all but one student. I even get blank looks when I say Field of Dreams [8]. So I report back: I guess not. I feel old. They write, Me too. And Kumail has one fewer joke to make.

Vocal concert. Opposed to Toy Trains [9] ends their set with Dar Williams’ Iowa. Remember hearing Williams sing the same song in Harris. Try to remember the story she told about writing the song. I’d swear it went something like the following: So, I performed at Grinnell a few years ago. And I was driving back to Iowa City for my next show. For some reason, it was taking longer than I expected. And then I ended up in Nebraska. It took a lot longer to get to Iowa City than I expected. I wrote this song while driving back [10].

Walking home with Michelle. She says You have your grading done, right? I reply How long have we been married? She says, But William has his Chemistry grades already.

Honor G Reception. Feel sad that the College provides only desserts. (The students had rehearsal at 11 and then the Honor G ceremony immediately afterwards. When were they supposed to eat?) Feel happy that I see a few alums I care about. Chat with them quickly.

CS Commons. Michelle has come in to help me clean up. I realize that PM and Titus have their graders working down the hall. I steal them for ten minutes. Many hands make light work. The Commons is now acceptable. I wonder if Henry Walker will mind that we boxed up all of his leftover books and put them in his office? That’s a problem for another day.

Peace Rock. Michelle and I say hello to a graduating senior and her family. The student introduces me by saying At the senior lunch, Sam had something nice to say about all forty of the seniors! I’m not sure why she was surprised.

Honor G Ceremony. Erin introduces the senior women. She says Five of these seven women are Biology majors. The other two decided to break the mold. They are Biological Chemistry majors. Laugh.

Vocal concert. The Grinnell Singers are performing. Remember how much I like to watch Middle play the mouth harp. Feel proud.

Honor G Ceremony. Erin is introducing the male senior swimmers. Says And one of these young men was not only Grinnell’s first student with majors in three disciplines, he also earned honors in those three disciplines. Feel proud as Eldest steps forward. Also feel proud as Will and Evelyn [12] congratulate me on the way out.

[1] I expect that these coaches found that their care for their players overrode that role [2].

[2] This is not to say that the other coaches care for their players any less.

[3] There are also some non-seniors in the group that I know and care about.

[4] I also have trouble spelling it.

[5] I’m not sure what this has to do with graduation weekend, but it happened this weekend, so I’m reporting on it.

[6] My budget will not permit me to use College catering, so I must self cater.

[7] I’m pretty sure that there are two puzzles that are now mixed together. Given the number of the pieces on the floor, I’m also pretty sure that both of them are missing pieces.

[8] If you haven’t seen Field of Dreams, you should.

[9] Con Brio.

[10] I’m sure that I’ve taken severe liberties with the story. My memory isn’t what it once was [11].

[11] It wasn’t much before, either.

[12] Freeman.

Version 1.0 of 2017-05-20.