With just a few busy weeks of school left, many of us alternate between the excitement for the summer ahead and the bittersweet thoughts of goodbyes and congratulations to our classmates and colleagues finishing their time at Moravian. As a school and community, we know it is the people and the relationships we form here that create our school’s long and cherished character. This is where our memories come from and this special 275th anniversary year has reminded us that we are all a part of our school’s legacy. May is an ideal month to look back at our favorite moments from the year and consider which ones we want to become long-term memories.
As I think about my first year at Moravian, there are many moments that I know will remain indelible. Some already stand out as incandescent in my mind. I remember the brilliant flickering light in Central Moravian Church from hand-held candles at evening Vespers. I remember the roar of the student section during the closing three minutes of the field hockey state championship game. I think often of the crescendo of student voices singing “Spirit of the Living God” to close our Lower School Chapel service each week.
There are other moments, however, that do not seem grand at the time, but that take on more meaning as we mull them over and slowly roll them into stories we will tell ourselves for years to come. I have had three of these moments in the past few weeks.
One moment was the morning after we opened the new Alumni Circle at the entrance to Snyder House on the Merle-Smith Campus. At the center of the brick circle is the familiar triangle emblem of Moravian Academy. There are also two sitting walls that embrace the circle and each displays an emblem of one of our two historical schools, Moravian Seminary for Girls and Moravian Preparatory School. The afternoon before, when we removed the construction cones and let students walk on it for the first time, I had told them that standing in this spot one could glimpse into the past, the present, and the future of our school. What I will remember is that as I walked from Walter to Snyder the next day, there were two groups of students gathered on each sitting wall, clearly enjoying the sun and their friends for a moment over lunch. On the left, where the Prep emblem rests, was a group of boys and girls. On the right-hand wall, it was a group of just four girls who had gathered and were talking and leaning on the Sem emblem. It was a small moment, but I could feel the continuity and the permanence of 275 years of student experiences.
Two Saturdays ago I had another similar experience. It was May 6, the night of the Upper School Father Daughter Dinner Dance as well as the Middle School Spring Dance. As many families know, the annual dinner dance is a cherished experience for Moravian fathers and their daughters. This was our 61st year and the Kentucky Derby-themed event undoubtedly created wonderful memories that will be told for years to come. What I will remember is standing outside Walter Hall in the rain later that night, after I had left the Saucon Valley Country Club to pick up my son who was attending the Middle School spring dance. As students poured out the doors to the umbrellas of their waiting parents, I saw an energy that was unmistakably different than when I see these students during the school day. These Middle School students congratulated each other, gave hugs and high fives, and continued their laughter and conversations from inside as if the night would never end. More collectively than individually, they had a sense of confidence and belonging that in that moment was unstoppable. From seeing the students with their fathers to these students with each other, I understood more about what makes Moravian Academy special than I had when I started the day.
A third moment for me occurred during our Birthday Lovefeast on April 26. Unlike other Lovefeasts, students lead this entire service. Students from all grades help to introduce the singing and pass out the cookies and educate us on our school’s history. For our 275th anniversary, students brought Countess Benigna and George Neisser back to life so that we better understood our long reach back into time. To help us see the arc of the student experience today, a student from each grade read to us about his or her favorite moment or characteristic about Moravian Academy. They shared about making friends, learning to take pride in learning, finding a new sense of acceptance or comfort in trying new experiences, and being motivated by inspiring teachers and classmates. Something I appreciated was knowing that a great many students had written about their favorite parts of the school and these students were selected based not on who they were but on what they had written.
What I will remember most, however, is that the book holding the day’s program, from which each student would take a turn reading, kept sliding off the podium onto the floor. At first it was surprising and a little embarrassing for the students who were speaking. They picked it up and quickly carried on. Then when it happened again, this time between two of the youngest students speaking, an older student stepped ahead in line to pick it up and quietly reassure the students that it was okay. By the time it happened again the next students offered a quick smile or laugh and everyone was at ease, each of us now included on this small moment shared among 900 people in the room. The service as a whole, from the individual sharings and personal connections to the love of serendipity and laughter, made me appreciate our school and what it brings out in us.