May Rituals Revisited


When our administrators learned we could host modified, on-campus graduation ceremonies, they couldn’t stop smiling (trust us!) and met at School, safely, to begin planning. 

Each year, May and June bring so many of our most memorable rituals to campus, from Lower School May Dances to 8th grade spring outdoor education trips, 5th and 8th grade promotion ceremonies, and––the pinnacle––our Upper School Commencement. Rituals ground us; they remind us of our past and they help us define our identity as a school with a long history, even in changing times. Our “script” for our end of year has been a constant over the many years I’ve been a parent, teacher, and administrator at Head-Royce. While this year is markedly different and our script continues to be edited and revised, our rituals remain a priority. Based on the joyous moments I’ve observed over the past few weeks, students and teachers are creating resonant and memorable moments, across all divisions.  

Celebrating Spring Events
Just last week, the Lower School shared the traditional May Dances in a compelling video presentation, which also highlighted the history of this beloved HRS ritual (did you know May Dances were started by our founder Anna Head in the 1870s?). 5th graders individually performed Lea Van Ness’s creative choreography using the traditional Maypole ribbons, which were woven together to create a beautiful, gradewide rendition. Other creative interpretations of our ritual connections have included the weekly “live” assemblies in the Middle School, which are filled with energy and fun as our students take part in projects related to citizenship and the environment, Spirit Week dress-ups, and fitness challenges. And, our wonderfully talented Fine Arts Dance Ensemble (FADE) performed a stunning three-night show last weekend, highlighting student- and teacher-choreographed dances. You can see a short clip of the virtual May Dances and FADE performance here. (Full-length versions are available on our Youtube channel.) If you haven't seen Caravan’s virtual Yoshi’s show from April, it is also included here.

Promotions and Upper School Graduation
One of our high points every year is our celebration of our promoting and graduating students in grades 5, 8, and 12. The divisional teams have been hard at work planning safe, unique, and meaningful celebrations. We are thrilled to share a plan approved by the Alameda County Health Department for an optional on-campus Diploma Walk in all three divisions, where each student will walk across our patio with just parents present. The ceremonies will vary slightly by division––with our biggest fanfare reserved for our seniors––but each plan allows students, and their parents, to briefly visit campus on our scheduled promotion days: Lower School, Thursday, June 4; Middle School, Friday,  June 5; and Upper School, Saturday, June 6. Each student will get the chance to celebrate in person with their parents, division head, dean, select faculty, and me. We will follow the Health Department guidelines for safe social distancing and provide careful coordination to limit the number of people on campus at any one time. These events will also allow us to access the beauty of our outdoor campus and see one other, face-to-face, albeit briefly. Surprises for the 5th, 8th, and 12th graders will arrive at your homes before the ceremonies. Please stay tuned for specific details from your division head next week. 

One silver lining of the shelter-in-place order is the time it allows for re-reading old favorites. Over the past week, I’ve returned to Anne Lamott’s book about the writing process, Bird by Bird, remembering that what I admire most about Lamott is her honesty. She says it like it is and still manages to offer hope in tough times. While these have been a truly unprecedented and challenging few months, I find myself moved, again and again, by our students’ creativity and resilience. Lamott writes, “When hope is not pinned wriggling onto a shiny image or expectation, it sometimes floats forth and opens.” As we wrap up our year and prepare to celebrate the many talents of our students, I see hope floating and opening once again.

Please stay well and thank you for your continued support and partnership as we find joyful ritual within uncertainty.

With gratitude,

Crystal Land