By Anna Szumiesz
Pop the champagne! The essays are in! As of this past Saturday, the members of the Class of 2015 on both campuses have submitted their Senior Essays! This is a very exciting time not only for the seniors, but for all members of the St. John’s College community. Annapolis’s tradition of inviting the seniors to President Nelson’s house to submit their essays and mingle with the many beloved members of the faculty is now one of my most treasured memories of my time here. The seniors trickle in beginning at 10 pm (I was a little late…10:30) falling somewhere on the spectrum from exhausted to invigorated. I think I was equal parts of both. Despite the 15 hours of sleep I had had over the week prior (a personal record), I could not contain my excitement. Almost four years of reading, writing, discussing, thinking, having existential crises, and pulling all-nighters led up to the moment when I beamingly handed my stack of pristinely printed and bound essays over to Dean Kraus. It was out of my hands, I did it!
After many photo-ops, a few glasses of wine, and halting the clock a couple of times for those last minute straggling seniors, we headed back to campus for the after party. I don’t think I have ever run as fast in heels as I did sprinting with my closest friends up the four flights of stairs in McDowell Hall to complete our rite of passage in ringing the bell. It didn’t matter to any of us that that really meant pressing a small rubber key on a telephone and not pulling with all of our might on a giant rope, that bell still rang, it still congratulated us all. That feeling might only be beat by the feeling we received moments later while standing on the portico facing Pinkney when our cheers and energetic champagne popping were met with the applause of at least a hundred of our fellow Johnnies. To the underclassmen I may or may not have sprayed champagne on… sorry, I’m not sorry. You will find yourself on those steps in your own time, and every drop of that champagne will represent each press of the keys on your keyboard, each hour you didn’t sleep, each cup of coffee you guzzled, each moment you doubted yourself, and there is no way you won’t want to pop that bottle too.
The Annapolis seniors begin their oral exams today and 22 students will be examined before Spring Break begins on February 27th. I have always loved and admired SJC’s celebration of education, and I think that the public oral exams greatly contribute to our community of learning. At this point in my freshman year I was still reeling from my first semester Don Rag, starting to become stressed about my own annual essay, and mesmerized by the accomplishments of the seniors. Attending some of the orals that year both clarified for me what I could and would accomplish over the four years at SJC, and challenged me to rise to the scholarship of some of my older peers. I encourage all students to attend at least a couple orals this spring, even if you don’t have any senior friends. It is a great chance to glimpse your own future and encourage your academic growth!