“You have a new memory,” my smart phone alerted me recently. I often wonder “what was I doing a year ago at this time?” Though human memory can be untrustworthy, Apple’s new technology confirmed that a year ago I was in the backyard of my Dana Hall School campus house in Wellesley / Historic District.
What flashed across my screen was not a memory occupied by my kids – though, they’re in it – but of my former advisees, six young women from the Dana Hall School Class of 2018: Nadia, Ashley, Katherine, Caroline, Fenn, and Mel. We’re having a backyard barbecue to celebrate their approaching graduation from Dana Hall. We’re squeezed onto the picnic table, together with my daughter Caroline, son Patrick, and dog Bruin.
I’m flooded with other memories associated with this photo. I remember I was expecting my son Arthur and how truly excited my advisees were about his arrival in the fall. They shared their favorite names and made me promise to email them pictures when the baby was born. We marveled at the thought that they would just be beginning their first semesters at college. I made them a three-layered chocolate cake, filled with green and white m & m’s (their class colors) that spilled out from the center when we cut it. We sang happy birthday to Katherine who had recently turned nineteen.
A year ago at this time, I was in proud advisor mode. My advisees gave me countless reasons to say satisfyingly to myself and sometimes shamelessly out loud, “That’s my advisee!” I felt proud of Ashley for her outstanding oboe performance in the Dana Hall School of Music Honors’ Recital. I felt proud of Fenn – who always said she did not enjoy public speaking – for submitting a speech to be considered for the Baccalaureate ceremony and getting picked to give it. I felt proud of Mel for her contributions to varsity tennis, earning her team a tie for first place in the EIL and herself the doubles MVP award. I felt proud of Caroline for completing her Capstone Project and being one of four students to be awarded the School’s first Global Scholars Certificate. I felt proud of Nadia for her beautiful writing published in Mirage, Dana Hall’s literary arts magazine. And, I felt proud of Katherine for already looking beyond Dana and how she would expand her world view by applying to National Geographic’s Prague Photoworkshop. I could go on and on.
What’s remarkable about this moment is that they were in the middle of senior projects, graduation rehearsals, and goodbye events. Their time was limited, as they only had a few days left in their high school careers. Yet, they all showed up to be together. This photo represents the chemistry of a Dana Hall advisory group. The composition of their different personalities, talents, and backgrounds exemplifies the diversity that we value at Dana Hall. You don’t need students to be best friends to create a strong advisory group. In fact, the more differences we have, the stronger we are.
We’ve come a long way since, “you’ve got mail!” Now our devices remind us we’ve got memories waiting for us. I know this new technology may annoy some for its resemblance to social media, but as a mom of three and an advisor to six, I welcome the occasional diversion in my day. Nostalgia runs thick when I get these alerts. Today’s notification made me smile as I recounted all the times I thought or said “That’s my advisee!”