Off They Go!

Sunday was Prize Day—a day for celebration, a day for remembrance, and a day for bittersweet goodbyes. Each year, the seniors depart campus for the final time one week early, leaving the remaining student body to take spring final exams in their absence. This year, our final goodbyes were soaked in celebration for their accomplishments, gratitude for their pasts, and excitement for their futures.  
After speeches from Mr. Maqubela, Steven Pang (‘22), and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, my favorite Groton tradition commenced. The seniors, after shaking hands with and farewelling the faculty, lined up single file around a portion of the Circle. The rest of the student body (first the Second Form, then the Third, and so on…) shook each senior's hand, slowly but surely shuffling their way through the line. 
I had flashbacks of my young childhood when my dad instructed my brother and me how to shake a hand properly. Maintain a firm wrist. Look them in the eye. Smile. As my form (the Fourth Form) began the handshake line, we soon realized that no matter how firm our wrists or how deep our eye contact, a handshake could not quite contain our smiles. One senior at a time, our handshakes quickly morphed into hugs, and a moment later I found myself embracing each and every senior. 
The emotion in the air was palpable. I could not define nor tell you what we all felt, but it was there, no doubt. This emotion assumed my body as I said my final goodbyes to my dorm prefects, my sports captains, and my brother. The thought of campus without the Form of 2022 is a grim one, but it is their collective academic, athletic, and social impact that we will have to remember them by. 
As I procrastinated studying for my final exams, I pondered these impacts. I reminisce over Ziad introducing me to Egyptian techno music in the dorm, every hockey locker room speech by Quinn, and every Sunday brunch with Aidan. One day, I’m sure, our paths will cross again (I do still have to live with my brother at home). But until then, it’s goodbye for now.