This promises to be another busy weekend on the Rosthern Junior College campus. Thursday, a grad of ‘70 came to the campus museum to borrow photos pertaining to her grad year for a display at their decade-reunion Saturday. On Friday, a couple of the Grads dropped in; the most fascinating display for them was the sports-jackets rack; both visitors are into volleyball. The annual musical (Rice/Weber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat this year) plays on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Grad ceremonies, the traditional highlight of the weekend, happens on Sunday afternoon. And then the all-night grad class dinner and following party that promises to leave everyone involved exhausted.
Grads are scratching their names into the bricks on the museum exterior, a tradition dating back to the ‘60s. I enjoy chatting with the grads as they scratch away with, usually, a three-inch nail and a bottle of water. I’ve suggested that a Dremel tool would make a good pencil, but access to one appears to be a problem. I ask them about their aspirations for the future, their short and long term plans, how they’ve experienced their high school years—typical old-person questions. I don’t ask them what’s motivated them to go to all the effort of scratching their names and attendance-years into a brick; I know why they do it.
Alumni come by, not so much to experience and learn from displays in the Mennonite Interpretive Centre or in the historic chapel, but more often to find their brick among the many, a search that can take a while since there are hundreds by now. There’s something about names indelibly displayed that proves to all and sundry—and to ourselves—that “I am somebody, and I was here.” Furthermore—seems to me—to see one’s name in such a large company brings back that feeling of belonging, of having been a part of something immensely significant in our lives. RJC has always had the power to create community, community that abides like the scratches in bricks. Good schools do that . . . deliberately. Grads reunite every ten years; my 6th grad reunion happens next year, my daughter’s 4th, my father’s would be his10th if any of his class were still alive to make the trip.
To you, the Grad of 2019, bon voyage . . . I’ll guard your brick while you’re away. See you in 2029.