The Month of May

by Jess Hill

May 2019

May is a season of celebration at Harpeth Hall, from luncheons and banquets to award assemblies and Step Singing. The year finally culminates with our tribute to the seniors in our lovely graduation ceremony.  We have so much to celebrate and commemorate in this month.
Our campus shines brightest in the spring. It seems that every garden is reminding us that it is time to let our 8th grade cross the lawn and time to let our seniors fly. We understand the importance of making the time and space for these milestones.  When we see each girl cross the stage, we get a glimpse of what it was all about; it seems to come together in that moment. A student’s poise and maturity are finally met with a gratitude for what she has learned and been given. The parents and faculty look on with pride and joy.

These significant accomplishments are easy to celebrate. Today, I would like to make the case for commemorating the ordinary along with the extraordinary, the little things alongside the big things. After all, most of our days during the school year are filled with the ordinary. These days include both personal and unknown triumphs – the forgotten assignment and the grace given, the basketball goal missed and the pat on the back, the algebraic equation solved and explained to a friend, an opinion shared and acknowledged by a classmate. Many days are full of quizzes and questioning and indecision. We have experienced more rain than I can remember in recent history, and we have walked to lunch on these ordinary days without umbrellas. Admittedly, a few of these days have bordered on the mundane.

However, I am grateful for the ordinary pace of the school year. The drumbeat of this march brings us closer to this extraordinary place at the end of May. If we save all our praise for the grander accomplishments, we may miss something important in the minutia of each of our girl’s lived experience.
At the end of the year, we want to see success in all our students.  We may find ourselves wanting to understand what a broader definition of success is. How can we understand success as a whole without recognizing its small components? We desperately want to study and imitate success in someone else, and yet we are too close to it to realize that we comprise important pieces of that mosaic. Our daily triumphs and ordinary moments help define the extraordinary.

In the end, the larger and smaller successes along the way are equally important pieces of our Harpeth Hall mosaic, and if we are lucky, our definition of success is deepened. We must step away from the school year to bring our understanding into relief. Beginning in June and July, we will be able to see the importance and significance of each rainy day and each unsure moment. The final class project and the game well played are equally as wonderful as the stroll across the stage. One does not diminish the other. They are all part of the whole.

Congratulations on the extraordinary success we share in another year of learning together!