I have always liked this particular song by Simon and Garfunkel, to me an interesting mix of eerie yet beautiful. Yet, the other day when in passing I mentioned “the sound of silence” to Saudea, her not surprising 6th grade response was; "Dad, silence does NOT have a sound!” When I was her age, I likely would have had that exact response. How can silence have a sound?
That being said, for the past ten years, shortly before graduation and the annual Commencement exercise - the culminating celebration by our graduates, families and entire school community - I find myself in a surreal peaceful place wrapped in and surrounded by the sound of silence. It is a palpable, real moment I treasure, and even more so this year because Nicolas was among the 96 KO graduates.
During the last all-school assembly in Roberts Theater, when the Seniors are still with us in their seats, I make a few opening remarks. Next, the outgoing student speaker reflects about his/her Senior year while offering advice to students in each grade. Then follows the incoming speaker and Mrs. Demers, Associate Head of School and Director of the Upper School, who both offer additional reflections and words of wisdom.
The assembly is abuzz with excitement and jitters because everyone knows that families and guests are waiting outside in anticipation of the ceremony and the awarding of diplomas. I dismiss students gradually - first students who play in the orchestra or sing in the choir. Then the annual ritual follows: Seniors leave the theater and I invite the Juniors to take their new seats for next year.
The Juniors genuinely cherish these seats as next year’s oldest students and leaders, just like they love to claim the “Senior Green” as their own when the Seniors are off campus for various activities during their last week before graduation. Faculty and staff are dismissed next, then Form 5, Form 4 – all the way to Upper Prep. They file out in great spirits amidst laughter, high fives and hugs.
Mr. Kravetz and his sound and lighting student crew are the last to disappear. Then the surreal moment occurs as I find myself completely alone on stage...not a sound in the theater. Yet, in the sound of silence, I still feel the presence, the joy and the excitement of all who were there just a few minutes earlier.
Early in my tenure at KO, I would rush out to join others as they lined up for the festive and dramatic entry of the board, faculty and staff, and our newest graduates.Now, instead, I linger. I stay in the moment… and I simply enjoy the sound of silence. Finally, I take a deep breath, and venture out into the sunshine and the sea of more than a thousand assembled to celebrate our Seniors, my son among them.