Saying Farewell

June 5, 2013

OVERHEARD IN SPANISH CLASS: “You bought special SHOES for Spring Fling?  Wow…being a girl must be really expensive.”

Lock ’em down.  Turn off the lights.  Close the curtain. Tie off the loose ends. One last check.  Folks in Gloggerville, we are coming to the end of this iteration of  “The Gould Academy Story.” Last night I watched boys in Holden trade clothes, throw away old tests, dig in under their beds, and begin to hoe out a year’s worth of memories from their dorm rooms.  There is a rumor out there that Jack and JaeWon actually found their floor last night.  Budding entrepreneurs were out and about, trying to sell anything that they didn’t want to carry our to the dumpster.

It’s time to say farewell.

Siyuan “Peter” “PEDRO” Wu, ’13 (with Glogger)

Some farewells are really easy- “See you in the fall!”  “See you sometime over the summer!” “See you after lunch!”  Some are more challenging. As a teacher and advisor at Gould for at least 150 years, I have seen a lot of teachers, administrators, staff, and students come and go through these doors (metaphorically speaking…there aren’t really front doors to “Gould”, as we live in a forest).  Many of them have made indelible marks on my life.  It’s kind of like each person has their own personal Sharpie permanent marker (fun game: “What color Sharpie are YOU?”).  As you move through the day, the year, your life, everyone around you leaves Sharpie marks on your psyche.  Some are big, as if the person were using one of those super-giant Sharpies that no one really uses: People like Tineke Ouwinga, who taught me more about teaching language than I can ever recount.  Some are small and detailed, but very specific- I think of Shawn Morales ’96, whose 10 minutes with me on top of Mt. Hight (watching the sun illuminate Mt. Washington) will stay with me for life.  They all leave their marks, but sooner or later we need to say farewell.

And then there are advisees.

You’ll note that I said “farewell”, not “goodbye.” For some, it really IS goodbye.  There are people who left their Sharpie marks on me and then disappeared. Those marks are still there, kind of like the scar I left on top of English teacher Chris Torino’s head (THAT Mr. Torino, who was just named 12th Head of School at Cushing Academy).  But for many, “farewell” really does mean “see you…when I see you.”  Mrs. Alford ran into a former Gould teacher or two at a conference in California this year.  People we haven’t seen in ten years.  Two summers ago our advisee Susi Hebestreit, ’97 (or thereabouts) returned to campus for the first time since graduation- with her husband in tow.

Advisees keep coming back.  So when I say “farewell” to our boy Peter Wu (who I have called “Pedro” since his first day at the Academy), I know that we’ll see him again. He’s headed off to the sunny, warm climes of Philadelphia, to study engineering at Drexel.

True conversation: “Why Drexel, Pedro?”

“Because I don’t want to be where it’s cold anymore.”

“Umm, Pedro…….have you seen any weather statistics for winter in Pennsylvania?”

So we look forward to the day when we see Peter on campus once more.  Pedro, congratulations! You have left your red-and-yellow Sharpie mark on the seat you occupied in Bingham for three years.  When I think of moon cakes, I see you next to me.  For now, no more dish duty, no more assemblies spent on the balcony. This is your time, live it up, and come back soon.  We miss you already.




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