Gifts From Our Seniors

“Our highest endeavor must be to develop free human beings who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives. The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility-these three forces are the very nerve of education.” ~ Rudolf Steiner

I’ve discovered the reason the Senior Project Festival is held in May, when many of us are challenged to muster the energy to persist through long days filled with a myriad of “must-do” activities. (Read “keep our eyes open.”) Contrary to popular belief, it is not to give the students enough time to complete their work – as we all know, teens will procrastinate with the best of them and then miraculously pull it all together in the eleventh hour. No, this culminating event comes to us in May as a beautiful gift when we most need shoring up and a renewed understanding of why we invest the time, the energy, the love, the tuition dollars, and our life’s work in Waldorf education.  Spending the past two days hearing the stories of 22 seniors reminded me of what we give to these children, and equally important, what they give to us. They created art, climbed mountains, developed a computer app, trained horses, wrote music, constructed a solar car, made films – and then shared their very personal stories with us.

These presentations were far more than reports on a project. Each one gave us a brief window into the soul of the unique human being standing before us. We heard of their fears, their frustrations, their courage, their successes and their failures.  The capacity of these young people to come before their peers, faculty, parents and friends and be so completely open and vulnerable, at moments took my breath away.  Whether struggling with issues of body image, facing an unexpected health challenge, or seeing the destitute village their birth family lived in, these students took up their final assignment at SWS with passion and courage.

I imagine we all left with our own takeaways from the Festival.  I will remember a few poignant and wise gifts these young adults offered:

  • There is no shortcut – be patient
  • Learn to be ready to take the interesting shot
  • Brick walls exist to weed out artists who just don’t want it enough
  • Being pushed to fail is how you find yourself
  • We should not turn ourselves into something we are not
  • It’s not all about the goal – enjoy the process

Finally, as Alyssa shared, when wondering how to do something, you just do it. When asked if you are doing it right, the answer is yes. It is right for you.

Thank you, seniors. I am grateful for all you have given us. And May definitely doesn’t seem quite so long now!

Enjoy the weekend!


Published in the Connection from 5.22.2015