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The Year Concludes with New Beginnings

Richard Pan

The word “commencement” means beginning, and at BWL the year-end traditions celebrate new opportunities. In Lower School, students in grades Kindergarten through Five walked through an elegant arch to represent their promotion to the next grade.

The Commencement ceremony for the Class of 2019 featured Cynthia Nixon as the keynote speaker, and we bid a fond farewell to Philip Sassower, BWL’s Board Chair of thirty-five years. This year’s 8th Grade Arch Day Ceremony was marked by the departure of several beloved administrators and teachers, including Middle School Director Joseph Kreutziger, and English and History teacher Marilyn Schulman, to name just two. We wish them well in their new ventures. The following poem by our Poet and Writer in Residence, Ryan Clinesmith, evokes the atmosphere of summer:

I wrote this poem for the departing seniors and for all BWL students that are moving on to another year at this wonderful School. In a time of vacation and departing it is important to remember what brought us to our places of relaxation. In anticipation of next year and BWL’s 2019-2020 Poetry Initiative I leave the community with this poem. At the end of this year let us look not to what is gone but to what is beginning.

--Ryan Clinesmith


the poem for the feeling you've wanted to have again and again,

or beginning the thing you should leave home to pursue.


And through it all, for me, nothing compares

to the sun in spring on the cement gutting into the Hudson.

The Washington Bridge funneling strangers into distance.

Perhaps it’s simply nostalgia

like the sun in spring on the cement outside of school,

or mountain wind and may warmth.

And it could just be the sunlight,

sunlight and open air.


The meaning of what's to come

and what was always there

is trapped in the feeling you’ve wanted to have again and again;


the moss covered rocks and green glare,

the children running to freedom or towards a dare,

and as I think of warmth my adolescent brain says “Marmth”

out of jumbled excitement for May and warmth.


You see

one might say,


“it’s just a biological reaction to the moment,

nothing more than I grew up here,

and light and air lights endorphins.”


But, when I think of the things I always remember

they seem the age at which I thought them;


olive, green, chartreuse, whatever.

The blue of dawn

and smell lacking carbon,

all has no other biology

no equal but the thought of place

and what once happened here.


There is no other than this beginning

that could cause the feeling--

the want for another day and another.