Gentle reader, on this page you will find photos from Isobel's graduation from Sweet Briar, May 13, 2006
I wrote about it on the blog (which I also copy out just below):
The girls processing:
Isobel receiving her diploma and congratulations from the college president, Elisabeth Muhlenfeld:
Just after she and all the girls processed back through an aisle on both sides of which were the faculty:
Then we all went to lunch. Afterwards we took a photo of the pavilion on which the proceedings had taken place:
Later in the afternoon the day before (May 12th, when Isobel received her awards), Izzy with Ellen on the side of the President's house, a 19th century Venetian-style southern mansion:
With Jim by the patio:
That day we went for a walk and took a picture of the old station the students once arrived at. It's now set in the landscape:
As we left on May 13th, we took one last look at Protheroe, the lovely building Isobel had eaten in for four years:
Her graduation ceremony was impressive and moving. I should not have been surprized since for 4 years straight the people running this college have proved to me they know what they are doing and how to do a thing right. I didnt expect so many people to be there: but there were over 120 young adults graduating (about 20 were students in two Masters program, some young men). And it was common for not just a nuclear family (father, mother, siblings) and a prospective husband or partner to turn up, but also grandparents, and aunts and uncles and perhaps further friends of the family. I like how the event was framed as honoring high achievement in learning, and how there was an effort to assert a sense of meaningful community and values (e.g., integrity) passed on. Many awards were given for community service, and there was much repetition of how these educated women are going to go be important leaders (somewhere or other). Other awards themselves were in the arts, literature, and hard sciences. At the end of the ceremony the faculty (who were most of them there and in gowns) formed two rows along the audience and the girls walked through the rows and out (as if were) into the world.
The speaker was "Miss Manners:" Mrs Judith Martin. As with the revival of the maypole, the choice was controversial among the students. Listening to her, I could see why her column is widely disseminated (basically shes conventional), and noticed looks of sly amusement in the faces of nearby audience members (when she seemed to flaut some convention). She did make some intelligent comments about the latest phase of feminism. Basically, shes a sort of stand-up comic. There was a joke about how young women today care about their silk slips stillonly in "my" day young women put clothes on over the slip.
On the more sceptical side: in a way what was so striking was how the people doing this ceremony and responsible for bringing others to participate in it were so consistently upbeat. How they produced the mood. I was probably surprized because I would not have imagined so many people (as it were) falling for this idealism, one whose terms would probably not appeal to their hearts at all (if you asked them and could get a reply for real), probably didnt. The way it was done was to not let slip anything but idealism except in the occasional necessary references to what an alumnae was now doing for a living (one young woman making a brief speech works in health insurance). Not a word on the numerous young men who were the partners of the young women graduatesand marriage was clearly immediately in the offing. Only the fleetingest references in any concrete way about what these young women are going to do next.
During the early afternoon the day before there had been an award ceremony where Isobel was recognized for her achievement in music and in classical studies. Then in the afternoon a garden party at the college presidents house: this is a 19th century extravaganza built by the southern slave-owning family who endowed the college. Its based on a Venice palazza. The garden is lovely and includes the sort of thing that is just there by chance: e.g., by some bushes a slightly rotting small statue of a nymph intently reading.
Two hour wait and then a delicious dinner. (The food at Sweet Briar is good; there cook once cooked in the White House.) Much wine flowed. And then we were to go to Elton Hotel, a hotel on campus where we were promised swing music.
We got there, and discovered they had hired a great band, really alive and full of life. Lots of liquor flowing, and a large dance floor. At first no one was dancing, but Jim and I began, and we really let loose. Vital energy and intensities of sexual feeling enacted. The floor became crowded with people dancing. Isobel danced with a group of girls dancing for a while, but then she did leave early. We stayed to the end :). And by then there were rousing group displays including WMCA.
Sweet Briar did that right too.