Arriving at St. Paul’s School as new students, the first days are so busy with the excitement of their new lives that their graduation seems like an unimaginable destination. They remember moving into their first dorm room, meeting their first group of friends, trying out for the first sports team – all of the firsts that soon became part of their daily lives here in Millville. Now, with graduation less than two weeks away, that distant future is knocking at the door.
“I’m feeling a bit sentimental,” says Keith Dean ’19. “SPS has given me a lot things that public school in New York City wouldn’t have. I’ve made a lot of friends from all different parts of the world, faculty here show nothing but love and compassion, and it’s going to be tough leaving this place.”
Dean is throwing the frisbee with friends near the playing fields on a beautiful spring day. They are from New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and California and soon they will all go their separate ways – home for the summer, off to college, maybe traveling abroad with family. But for two more weeks, they are here together in this place that has become their second home.
“It’s both incredibly scary and exciting,” says Elena Guild ’19, Student Council vice president. “You can feel that energy from everyone as we get closer and closer to graduation.” She and Student Council President Estela França ’19 are more than 10,000 miles from home between the two of them – Guild is from Tokyo, Japan, and França from Sao Paulo, Brazil – yet feel at home in Concord, New Hampshire. There are countless reasons – their friends, their teachers, the opportunities they’ve been able to take advantage of – but for França, one in particular stands out. “I will always remember the feeling of gratitude that engulfs me every time I look around in Chapel at all of the people singing in unison,” she says. That feeling, each morning, of being in a shared space with the entire SPS community, is something each graduate will take with them wherever they go next.
Leaving Millville is bittersweet. The closeness that is developed as a form will no doubt be difficult to replicate. Yet, these students are excited to take the memories, the milestones, and the lessons they’ve learned onto the next stage of their lives. “It will be difficult to leave behind St. Paul’s School and all the opportunities I’ve had here,” says Lucinda Jeune ’19. “But I’m looking forward to the next four years of my life and seeing what comes next.”
“I’m feeling an overwhelming sense of nostalgia,” says Sam Van Horn ’19, frisbee in hand. “I’m one of the younger members of my form and have gotten to know many people in the younger forms really well – it’s going to be really hard to let them go. But I know at the end of my four years I can definitely say I’m changed for the better.”