Like so many things this spring, it seemed that the annual Carnation Ceremony wasn’t going to be able to take place. Each fall at NGFS, kindergarten (Sunrise) and 12th grade students come together at a whole school Meeting for Worship with the tradition of the seniors handing these young, new members of our community a carnation to welcome them to the school. Each spring, the kindergarten students, now a bit taller and more sure of themselves, hand a carnation to that same graduating senior to bid them farewell. This tradition holds a special place in the hearts of many of the students. For the parents who can remember when it was their child receiving that carnation so many years ago, now watching their young adult heading off to new adventures, it’s a symbolic and meaningful moment.
This Friday should have been the in-person Carnation Ceremony. But here we are - COVID-19 life, schools closed, shelter in place orders - a much different climate than expected. Our seniors and Sunrise buddies still wanted to be able to celebrate this occasion and prepared to do a virtual Meeting for Worship together. While grades have been engaged in remote learning for weeks, this was the first time buddy classes would be connecting online.
At the meeting, our young friends presented their senior buddy with a picture of a flower that they drew for them.
“That’s the most beautiful flower I’ve ever seen in my life, thank you”
“Thank you, that looks so nice”
“Thanks very much, buddy, it’s beautiful”
Head of Lower School Carolyn then proceeded to read “Waiting is Not Easy!” by Mo Willems. This message rang especially true for many of our students right now. Kindergarteners spoke out of the silence with sentiments such as,
“It’s hard to wait until there’s a rainbow in the sky.”
“it’s hard to wait until summer.”
“It’s hard to wait to see your friends.”
“It’s hard to wait to see your cousins.”
An end of the year tradition at NGFS is singing the magic penny song, and so as can best be done on Zoom, the group sang together to end the meeting.
During these strange and stressful times, we are all looking for moments of joy, connection, and peace. The students’ approach to the Carnation Ceremony with creativity, flexibility, and happy faces reminds us that there’s a lot we can learn from children right now.
“Love is something if you give it away,
give it away, give it away
Love is something if you give it away
You end up having more.”
– The Magic Penny song
Photos from the fall carnation ceremony