This year when seniors were asked to choose a graduation speaker — someone they look up to, someone whose wisdom and words they treasure — Patrice Pinette quickly rose to the top of the list. Senior mentor Jonathan Northrop who helped guide students through the process of choosing a speaker, says, "Patrice lovingly dedicated herself to High Mowing for a decade and a half as teacher, eurythmist, crafter of the Nativity Play, Faculty Chair, and many other roles — an inspiration to all who know her. Yet it is her poetic imagination, grace, and capacity to see and know the depths of students and form word pictures around her knowing, that drew them to ask her to speak for them at Graduation."
Patrice is, to quote her own words, “a devotee of the living and creative word;” a fact made clear in the eloquence of her graduation speech. For Patrice words are about far more than what is written or spoken. They are about relationships, about intimacy, about risk. As a eurythmy teacher, Patrice brought the Nativity alive with word embodied not in voice or ink, but by movements and gestures that resonated with meaning and spoke directly to the heart. Taking the reins from Sabina Nordoff who had succeeded Mrs. Emmet in guiding Nativity, was no easy task, but she gracefully rose to the challenge.
A teacher of creative writing and literature, and a published poet, Patrice inspires her students and readers to speak and live from their hearts. The twenty students to whom she spoke on graduation day, will carry her words into their lives. In classic Patrice fashion, she began writing her speech by listening—asking the seniors to tell her what they felt was most essential to the world. “To me,” said Patrice to the students after reading through the list of what they felt was essential, “your list bespeaks intelligence of the heart.”
It is this intelligence of the heart that marked Patrice’s leadership on the Faculty Council and then for three years as Faculty Chair at High Mowing. She served as the voice of the school and as a support and advocate for the faculty. She considered one of her primary responsibilities “to care for the well-being of individuals and the community. " This idea of the heart and of care rang clearly throughout Patrice’s graduation speech. “Receptivity and openness, easier said than done,” she told the students, “is required for the compassion and empathy you students intuitively grasp is needed as never before. More is at stake. The health of the entire planet is at stake! More important than ever is that we feel another person’s joy and pain as our own — to really feel that another person’s life is of equal value to our own.”
Our students go out into a wide world of possibilities. We hold in our hearts the hope that they will abide by the wisdom Patrice imparted as they made their ceremonial transition from the world of high school to paths as varied as their personalities; that they will cultivate intelligence of the heart and a force of imagination. For, as Patrice so eloquently put it, “It is imagination that may glean some glimmer of the not yet, on the cusp of its becoming. This is the creative imagination at work!” A copy of Patrice’s full speech may be found here.