Lower School Closing 2015

Lower School Closing took place on June 5 at Christ Church, as is tradition. Head of Lower School Laurie Gruhn welcomed the community and congratulated the boys on their accomplishments during the past school year, while Head of Middle School Chris Dunham welcomed those boys headed into fifth grade to Middle School at Browning. The Margery Morse Award winner, as well as the Betty Jean Johnson Poetry Award winners, were recognized.

The fourth grade boys, in particular, showed their maturity by standing proudly at the podium, recounting their memories of Lower School and thanking those who contributed to their success, especially their teachers, parents and families.

The theme of this year’s closing was “Let’s Go on a Safari.” Musical selections included such songs as “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” “Never Smile at a Crocodile” and “Talk to the Animals,” to name but a few. Under the direction of Lower School music teacher Lucy Warner, the boys were joined by the Lower School “Strings of Spring” Orchestra.

During the farewell section of the program, Headmaster Clement thanked Ms. Warner for her incredible work with the boys, including musical direction, accompaniment and choreography. Thanks also to Lower School music instructors Gemma Baehr, Lucie Gelinas, Marc Daine, Michael Serman ’06 and Jay Tilton. The colorful program cover art was accomplished by members of the third and fourth grades. Organist Steven Pilkington provided the processional and recessional.

Congratulations to the fourth grade boys for individually stating their memories of Lower School and offering thanks to teachers and family. Congratulations! Read below the photo gallery for Ms. Gruhn's remarks.

Remarks by Head of Lower School Laurie Gruhn
Lower School Closing
June 5, 2015

At the start of this year, on the third day, actually, our fourth grade boys were asked by Mr. Clement to describe themselves in terms of the qualities that embody the Browning Mission Statement. This was quite the assignment. It came as the boys stood in front of the whole Lower School at the first Lower School Assembly. I looked at Mr. C and Mrs. Epstein and whispered, “Uh oh!”  I thought it was only the first week, the boys are not prepared; can they do this? Fingers crossed!

Here is what they spontaneously came up with. This is how the fourth grade boys described themselves in terms of citizenship on September 8, 2014 (the numbers indicate how many boys used this same word):

Kindness (6)
Honesty (4)
Sportsmanship (4)
(Almost half the class used the above three adjectives!)
Respect (3)
Creativity (2)
Energetic (2)
Responsibility (2)
A good heart

I am confident that these words not only are accurate descriptions (I know which words are attributed to each boy!) but there are also stories here.

There is power in stories, gentleman. The tale of “Who am I? “ Who are we?” is always the most interesting story there is to tell.  And this year, there were wonderful tales. Whether you were aware of it or not, you told your teachers stories of joy, of triumph, of fears. You told us stories of struggle and challenge. You told us some sad stories, and at times, you shared some angry epochs. And your teachers listened. They heard every word, even when those words were unspoken. That is what a teacher does.

And you learned from each other’s tales. You learned humility, you learned patience, and hopefully you learned compassion for others. In other words, you learned about the belief in the dignity of the individual.

Gentleman: throughout this summer, go on a safari and find those words that tell us who you are.  And keep on learning from one another’s stories. If you listen carefully, you will teach each other everything you need to know!

One more thought: About a week or two before classes started in September, as I went through my beloved checklists and to-do lists, I sat back contentedly and said to myself. “There. I’m good to go. According to these lists, everything I could possibly need to do prior to the start of the school year is complete, and I am ready for the year to begin.” And as I looked around, I realized there was only one problem:
The teachers were not here.
The students were not here.
And if I were really honest and even remotely observant, many of the classrooms were not here.

The start of this year was incredibly exciting and incredibly chaotic. Think back to some of our new classrooms. When you started the year, there were no bulletin boards, no whiteboards; teachers were struggling without copy machines  or printers, and some rooms were not fully unpacked. And some chairs were just all wrong. And yet, when you walked in on that first day, your eyes lit up and the biggest WOW I have ever heard came out of your mouths. Every student in this school whether he was six or 16, and every adult, whether they be 26 or 66, was astonished at what had been created for our community. We had been transformed.

And of course, we have now come full circle. Once again, we are packed up and   are looking like anything but a school. Wait until September! Our transformation will be complete, and we will once again look at each other and say, “WOW!” That is, of course, what we do and who we are.

And now to our program. May I remind you to turn your phones off so that you can, just for the next 45 minutes, be fully immersed in the gift of song and music. Please feel free to take pictures from your seats, but a video will be available, so you also have the option of enjoying the moment live and right in front of you, rather than from behind a video screen.