Step Singing honors seniors' devotion to a place beloved
Harpeth Hall Senior Spencer Robbins doesn’t have any real fears. Except for one. And a half.
She couldn't care less about heights or spiders. After a recent class trip to the zoo, she laughs that she now has a “super minor, half fear” of gibbons swinging over the fence and landing on her head.
But that’s not the one that gets her.
Her true fear is forgetting.
“We don’t have enough room in our brain for every ounce we wish we could store away there,” she said, “and I am worried about running out of room.”
Spencer wants to remember what it feels like when a Harpeth Hall teacher looks her in the eye and encourages her by saying, “You do know.” She wants to hold on to the laughter in the classroom when a teacher offers advice on a silly topic. She wants to recall the discussions with her teachers that left her “wanting to change the world.”
And she wants to forever remember Harpeth Hall, a place that for the last eight years has given her and her classmates an excellent education and enduring memories.
“I wish I could capture our countless Souby picnics this year with the sun warming our backs and the ‘eye smiles’ in the hall that we got so good at,” she said. “I’m devoted to remembering all of it, and the relationships I’ve formed here will remind me of this place always.”
On Sunday night that devotion — a love, a loyalty, an enthusiasm — spread across Souby Lawn as the seniors and juniors gathered together for the year-end Step Singing ceremony.
In a special tradition that has endured since the 1920s, each year Harpeth Hall’s graduating class passes leadership of the school to the juniors. The ceremony also honors the Lady of the Hall, the highest honor given to a member of the senior class. This year, Spencer Robbins received that honor, speaking of respect for the place that taught her it's not just about what you learn but how you use it.
“I hope we can all say we are devoted to learning,” Spencer said. “Not devoted to a grade, or recognition, or college acceptance, but to learning — to being present, and to listening, and to speaking up.” Because, Spencer said, “I have grown up in this place — and it has taught me to devote my every effort to the things I care about.”
After Spencer spoke, the classes carried on the beautiful singing tradition started by the women of Ward-Belmont nearly a century ago.
Lined along the steps of the Ann Scott Carell Library, the Class of 2021 passed on their leadership of Harpeth Hall by singing “My Wish.” The juniors accepted leadership of the school with their own song to the seniors “Slipping Through My Fingers.” Then the Class of 2022 pledged to transmit Harpeth Hall better, greater, and more beautiful than it was transmitted to them.
To close the ceremony, Ms. Sinclair Kelly ‘98, a Harpeth Hall alumna and mentor to this year’s senior class, offered some words of encouragement. She called on the Class of 2021 to trust their gut, to learn more by experiencing more, to crowd their tables with friends they care about, and to become individuals who do more.
“Make that a part of who you are,” Ms. Kelly said. “Don’t just post or hashtag something. Do something yourself. Do something because it is the right thing to do. Do something because it gives you purpose.”
Those are words Spencer and her classmates will remember.
Lady of the Hall and her Court
Lady of the Hall: Spencer Robbins
Senior Representative: Sinclair Walker
Junior Representative: Betsy Rogers
Sophomore Representative: Lailah Rucker
Freshman Representative: Ivey Mayes
Eighth Grade Herald: Kiki Christopher
Seventh Grade Herald: Sarah Roper
Sixth Grade Crownbearer: Josie Hassell
Fifth Grade Crownbearer: Julia LaFreniere