The maturation fairy flew by and sprinkled her magic dust again… it happens every year, but for some reason it always catches me by surprise.

The shy are more confident; the overly bold have mellowed.  Those who pushed people away have learned to invite others in; those who flung and clung have learned to stand on their own two feet and respect others’ boundaries.  Words are more carefully chosen, and more confidently stated.  They are clearer about where they end and others begin.  They make independent decisions instead of following the pack mentality.  The soft baby faces have given way to unique and chiseled characters.  The peach fuzz and pimples have been replaced with smooth skin and an occasional mustache or beard.  The long limbs that seemed to have had minds of their own, now work in coordinated fashion; and gone is the Tigger-like bounding, instead, replaced with smooth, graceful strides.  No more predictable, but startling, eruptions of dropped pencil boxes, notebooks, folders, loose papers, and books.  They now carry their belongings neatly hidden in their huge backpacks, ever slung over one shoulder.  They have grown up – the miracle that never ceases to fascinate me.

It is senior speech season here at the Academy, when the true magnificence of the maturation process blooms before our very eyes.  This long standing tradition, and a requirement for graduation, is an opportunity for each member of the senior class to address their peers and the faculty.  It is the chance to tell a piece of their story, to share, to educate, to entertain, to inspire – to depart their brand of wisdom.  We hear of adventures taken, challenges faced and met, or life lessons they feel the urge to share.  Some are quite serious and some more light-hearted, but all are thoughtful and delivered with well-earned confidence.  It is a joy to witness; for we have watched them grow from cute little dependent creatures, through the awkward, interdependent tweens and teen years, and finally, into independent seniors: on the brink of adulthood.  It is a beautiful thing.