SHIRLEY MARGARET STICKNEY
The Hawthorne School — 1961
I suppose a valediction is a farewell speech on
behalf of the graduating class. But I cannot say farewell for
everyone and they are doing it themselves.
I have heard people malign this building and speak of it as an
obstacle, but it is really very beautiful and now they are realizing it.
It is especially beautiful to people who are being torn off it; for
once you have become accustomed to something it never seems more
beautiful than when you are leaving it.
And you were never so attached to it as now when you are nearly severed.
And we were never so much a class as we are now.
After this we will go away.
I hope we will not grow up -- and want what is attainable.
I hope we will always want what is impossible and that we will be able
to feel like the most wonderful patterns in a kaleidescope; and walk in
a desert the way it looks at a distance -- rows of color instead of
prickly bushes and clumps of dirt.
I hope that our friends will tell us beautiful stories or be silent and not talk about what is not good enough.
I hope we will be exalted by rain.
I hope we will always be children so that we can see and feel what is important and not what is expected.
It is not at all ridiculous or irrational to want to feel like a
kaleidescope. For, when you dream you feel exalted and nothing is
You never question the idea of sitting on some cement stairs with a
black snake you like so very much it is your best friend, coiled on
Or that you are walking up an exquisitely pleasant narrow stairway
carpeted in a beautiful pattern of flowers into a room, so immense that
it takes you fifteen minutes to walk across it, to the windows you want
to show someone.
Or when you dream of Hawthorne on a moving white belt, with people
sitting in desks, on different levels, all moving in circles, and
suddenly you are quite continuously in a strange sort of building where
everyone in the School is taking a class to learn to play a fantastic,
indescribable instrument; then you are in a broom closet; then leave to
watch boats race on the floor above.
When you are dreaming you feel and experience everything and it is not
irrational although when you are awakened you may think it impossible.
Even if you will never feel like a kaleidescope, the fact that you
considered and imagined it gives you more experience than those who
never desired such an unattainable.
It is good not to grow up because, as long as you remain in essence a
child, you can see and feel and experience everything instead of
If you are a child you can meow the way a cat does when it has a mouse in its mouth and feel very good about it.
And every time someone meows you will feel happy because you have meiwed with friends.
And when you think of Hawthorne you will not become nostalgic or think how frivolous you were then.
You will think of how good it felt and it will make you glad.
Hawthorne is now an accumulation of all sorts of experiences and feelings.
It is all there now, because it is what you are.
You don't have to say goodbye to it because you can take it with you.
Last updated November 19, 2003