Saturday, June 03, 2006

A Scattergood Graduation

Although I couldn't make it to both my brother's graduations (I had my own graduation to get together and attend), I had the pleasure of going to one of them - my brother A's graduation, which was at a very unique place called Scattergood.

My brother A has gone to Scattergood for the last four years. This is a private boarding school (although my brother is a day student - meaning he's one of only a few people there who actually lives close enough to commute). It's located out on a farm near West Branch in Iowa, and is a Quaker school but is also a small hippie farm school. Coincidentally, my dad worked there a few years when I was a little tyke, so I have some childhood history with the place. Classes at Scattergood are extremely small and specialized and often unique (they can take classes like Farm Project, Banned Books, Fencing, and Bike Trip). The school itself only has about 50 students, most of whom live there, so they all become very close. In addition, because it's a Quaker school, they attend Quaker worship every week and learn to speak their minds in the manner of Quaker open worship (there is no one pastor, the people are the pastors).

In accordance with this Quaker affiliation, Scattergood's graduation ceremony has no "host" or speeches, but instead is an 'open worship' where the students, parents and teachers have an opportunity to stand up and say whatever they like to the everyone in attendance. After about ten minutes of total silence (seriously), people did just this. It started with a few of the Scattergood staff, who are probably better at this kind of thing than the rest of us, but then the parents joined in and even some of the high school students. My dad's wedding was done this same way, and the problem with this format is that as soon as someone says something emotional, everyone starts crying and then it snowballs into a big crying fest. It's probably a lot more meaningful than the traditional graduation (or wedding) ceremonies, and I certainly felt obliged to put in my two-cents worth and was happy to be able to do it. It was amazing to hear some of the parents stories, too, and made me feel much closer to this community that I wish I could have known better.

I've put in some pictures from the event:

Topmost picture:
My brother A just after graduation, demonstrating how he got through the last week of finals, constant social engagements including at least two overnights, a big family party and all the graduation events.

2nd down: Some members of my brother's class (they were lining up for pictures). They traditionally are each given a rose, and a very pretty diploma that is handwritten on parchment paper and signed by all the staff at Scattergood in the traditionally Quaker manner. They also did not wear caps or gowns, but instead simply dressed as they chose.

3rd down:
My brother giving his good friend and classmate a piggy-back ride. These two have been close since their freshman year, and my brother even had the opportunity to go to China for a summer to visit his friend's family and stay with them. There are quite a few international students at Scattergood which creates many opportunities for international travel in addition to the ones provided by the school.

Bottom picture:
My brother being carried off into the sunset by his good friend from the above picture.

What an event! I really wish I could have been to both of my brothers graduations, but at least I got to go to one. I was also very happy to finally experience the amazing Scattergood graduation ceremony and finally see what all the hubbub was about.

Pictures courtesy of my Studly Hubby, who is (thankfully) always handy with the camera, and very good at catching those special moments.

1 comment:

tom said...

nice post! I like your comments on Scattergood. I remember teaching you to ride a bicycle there. We also appear in Bob Bergquist's (sp?) book on Scattergood history.

I agree- your brothers are handsome and deserve congratulations!