Ophelia had her last day of “school” Friday–another moment in a long list of moments that marks the bittersweet taste of my children growing older and of saying goodbye to wonderful phases and places I will never visit again as a parent. This most recent parting was especially poignant due to the fact that we truly were leaving the building, never again to return.
The Ben Smith Campus, as it is known today (it is, in fact, one building–albeit a very special one–and its yard) used to house the entire school in it’s nascent stage, and, over time, many, many people have played here, taught here, smelled the aromas of oatmeal, applesauce, and homemade bread coming from the kitchen, held a child up high to look at a bird’s nest in the eaves of the roof, climbed trees, swung, sledded, rolled hoops down the grassy hill…
In it’s later stages, Ben Smith became home to the Early Childhood programs (although the first and second graders could be heard jumping and singing upstairs until just two years ago) and it was then that our family entered the scene–first in the parent-toddler program Ophelia is just finishing, then in the nursery (for Emerson) and as a teacher’s assistant (for me). It was Emerson’s first leap into the world without me, even though I was just one classroom over. It was where Ophelia sat on the kitchen floor and later practiced walking up and down the ramps that led to the two abutting classrooms, while I washed dishes and looked out the window into a yard of playing children. It was where my passion for Waldorf Education and Anthroposophy took root and was nourished. It was a place where all of us formed friendships and community that will carry us far into the future.
Earlier this year, in the spirit of integrating the entire school community on one campus, The Ben Smith Campus was sold. Next year, as the youngest nursery students play in their temporary play-yard, they will be able to watch high-school students move between classes. It is a wonderful step towards the future, but sad at the same time.
There are many people–some who have spent entire careers or childhoods at Ben Smith–whose memories out date and outnumber mine. But I feel I speak for every person, everywhere, who has ever–even for a moment–stepped foot in this magical space when I say, Thank You Ben Smith. You will be missed.