Punctuated by school graduations, this past week has been occasion for
Yesterday afternoon at the high school, we heard our warmly-loved
outgoing superintendent Rob Liebow tag-team with equally revered poet
and artist Ashley Bryan in a remarkable and unrehearsed address about
the eleven essential elements of education, during which the
auditorium’s rafter trusses rang both exuberantly with the cadences of
Langston Hughes and poignantly with the receding tones of the Bear
Island bell buoy.
Following similar structure, the valedictorian and salutatorian merged
their respective speeches into one brilliant Socratic dialog about
whether the experience of education was more memorably represented as
individual achievement or collective experience.
While we surely were all gathered to honor individual graduates, given
the turnout it seemed the latter argument carried the day.
This was even more abundantly plain Saturday evening at the
Neighborhood House on Islesford where most of the citizens of both
Islesford and Great Cranberry turned out, along with many relatives
and friends from the mainland, for a potluck celebration of the
graduation of the two eighth-graders from the Ashley Bryan School.
With the next eldest students at the Ashley Bryan school now only in
the fifth grade, one can appreciate that graduation ceremonies there
are anticipated much more like a transit of Venus than as annual
To match the ratio of more than a hundred adults for two graduates
Saturday night on Islesford, imagine nearly ten thousand turning out
on Sunday for the high school graduation, each bringing a homemade
dish, along with perhaps another gift of a poem, a telling anecdote,
or a hand-stitched quilt.
Similarly, on Thursday evening local businesses, individuals, and
non-profit groups awarded nearly $300,000 in scholarships to our high
school graduates, equal evidence of how much this community willingly
commits in hope for the success and happiness of our neighbors’
So I can happily report with assurance that this graduation season
only confirms how deeply education here continues to entwine with our
sense of community. Education truly is our collective project and we
understand that the success of all of our children is
indistinguishable from our own.
We all should be proud that this value conveys through both ongoing
individual commitment and community celebration. While this
commitment holds, the future is bright with hope.
I’m eager to fight for such communities.