Last Friday was a momentous day at Harrisburg Academy with a very special beginning and an important ending.

Let’s start with the ending – the Middle School dance – as it’s freshest in my mind…. In fact, I think I can still feel the bass reverberating within me.  Imagine a cafeteria transformed to a tropical paradise. The music is appropriately cranked, the overhead lights off, and pulsing strobes of green and red light up the dance floor. Most of the dancers and the observers are dressed with a tropical flair which matches the festive decorations.

As always, there are lots of bodies, ranging from just past elementary size to almost grown – but it definitely does not feel like lunch time in here. There is electricity in the air. The 8th graders, who are practically high school students at this point, confidently set the tone and show off their best moves – on and off the floor. The 7th graders are almost as confident, knowing that at the very next dance, they will be at the top of the Middle School heap: the mighty 8th graders. The 6th graders are suddenly not the youngest and blend in well with the mix.

And brand new to the scene is the 5th grade class. They are all over the place! Most are studying the room, trying to figure out how they are supposed to act. Some huddle in groups discussing what to do next, and with whom. Several of them purposefully walk the room, as if on an important mission, darting from one end of the cafeteria to the other. Some just observe, standing alone, while nodding to the beat. The majority take regular trips to the Shirley Temple bar and well-stocked snack table displaying sugar in every imaginable shape and color, consuming their fill of the energy boosting treats. Several more dance with complete abandon on and off the official known, but invisible, parameters of the dance floor. They are all blissful to have arrived, finally able to fully participate in all things Middle School. Welcome to the big dance, Class of 2022!

And then I’m brought back to the big morning we had, when the Academy hosted the annual “Hail and Farewell” Ceremony for the seniors – this important ending… the last official school day for the Class of 2015.

I have known many in the senior class since they were in 5th grade. In this, their final year, they are now 19 in number. They cover the spectrum in color, belief, personality, and interests, but they are one. Their families hale from many lands: Africa, America, Canada, China, Hungry, Korea, Poland, Russia, and Vietnam – diversity is one of their many collective strengths. They are young- and old-souled, playful and serious, intense and laid back, silent and extremely loud. They are smart, sensitive and quick to question and debate… but quicker still to laugh.

They are a collection of artists in every sense of the word; they are singers, musicians, comedians, writers, actors, and scholars. They are creators of prose, beautiful works of art, machines, melodies, fashion, mathematical formulas, and original thoughts. They are transparent, and they are mysterious.

To this point, they have been bound together by their common educational journey here at Harrisburg Academy. They have faced their personal trials, some big and some small, and they have loved, annoyed, supported, torn down, built up, and stuck by each other through it all. They are a group who accepts as much as they challenge and reject. They are now getting ready to disperse and head their separate ways with the skills to achieve great things on the next legs of their journeys: internships, graduation and then college. They will be missed here, but they are ready! We bid Hail and Farewell to the wonderful Class of 2015.

What a day.