Head of School Jay Rainey Salutes Class of 2028

At our annual Eighth Grade Celebration held during the last week of school, Head of School Jay Rainey addressed eighth graders and their families before their transition into the Upper School at MICDS. Here are his remarks.

Welcome to all of you who are here this evening in celebration of the wonderful MICDS Class of 2028.

It seems impossible not to think and talk about cicadas these days. In fact, I talked about them this morning at our Fourth Grade Celebration program in Eliot Chapel as well. I hope that the Day, Hill, Lurk, and Wang families—all of whom, I believe, attended that earlier program—will accept my apology for the repetition here. In view of your tireless energy today, by the way, each of you has been nominated for an MICDS Parent Endurance Award.

So how about all these cicadas?!? Our “guests in the Midwest” this spring are members of Broods XIII and XIX—especially Brood XIX here in St. Louis—but it was the emergence of Brood X, known as the Great Eastern Brood, back in 1970 that inspired a famous song about cicadas—except that Bob Dylan, who wrote it, called them “locusts” in the lyrics. They were taking conquering New Jersey right around the time that Mr. Dylan was receiving an honorary Doctor of Music degree at Princeton University’s graduation ceremony; and their powerful, undulating hum made quite an impression on him.

As I observed to the Class of 2032 this morning, so will I observe to you, the Class of 2028, that while the event at which we are gathered is not really a graduation ceremony, it feels a little bit like a graduation ceremony; and I think it must be for this reason that Mr. Dylan’s song, called Day of the Locusts, written about a graduation ceremony, has been so much on my mind. It begins like this:

Oh, the benches were stained with tears and perspiration.
The birdies were flying from tree to tree.
There was little to say, there was no conversation,
As I stepped to the stage to pick up my degree.
And the locusts sang off in the distance,
Yeah, the locusts sang such a sweet melody,
Oh, the locusts sang off in the distance,
Yeah, the locusts sang, and they were singing for me.

It’s a Romantic idea, isn’t it, that thousands upon thousands of cicadas on our campus are singing for you this evening? I hope you will let it linger with you here—this feeling, as you commemorate the conclusion of your Middle School years at MICDS, and all that you have accomplished in them, that not only all of your teachers, advisors, coaches, and other Middle School staff, and your family and friends—not only they, but even the countless cicadas, and the trees in which they harmoniously thrum—even they celebrate and congratulate you.

A Naturalist—a Realist—would tell you that such thinking is nonsense, that these cicadas do what they do without any awareness of your important milestone. Therefore, by the power vested in me as Head of School, I hereby banish all Realists from our ceremony this evening. Only Romantics are allowed! At least for the next hour or so, those cicadas are indeed singing for you, just like they sang for Bob Dylan back in 1970. They, and I—and we—are all very proud of you. Congratulations, Class of 2028, on your completion of our Middle School program.