At The David School, we do graduation – as we do much of the rest of our educational program – differently. Instead of sitting in a gym or an auditorium on chairs all facing the stage, we have graduation in our dining room. We face each other around round tables instead of a stage, and we talk together over a special meal prepared here in our own kitchen by our students and teachers and families instead of a hired cook. Because, most of all, we are a family, and, on this day in particular, we celebrate the joy and warmth of being together.
This May 28, when we graduate two high school seniors and two 8th graders, our meal will include a salad made from the produce from our own garden, and we’ll also be able to look out from the dining room at our greatly expanded school garden and 2 new high tunnels. I think these things, too, make our dining room the perfect site for an event like graduation. First of all, planting and tending a garden is an integral and proud part of our students’ Appalachian history and culture. Furthermore, this particular garden reminds all of us who learn and serve this special little school that no one accomplishes anything alone – whether it be growing a successful garden or earning a high school diploma.
But in addition to the tangible rewards of growing and selling healthy food, one of the most important reasons for a high school like ours to have a garden is, I think, to cultivate (no pun intended!) patience and faith. For, like going to high school, there’s no short term gratification or instant rewards with gardening. Even with a fast growing crop like lettuce, there are at least 3-4 weeks before there’s anything to eat. More often, it’s several long, hot months between planting the seeds (in faith) and enjoying the harvest (in celebration). And of course, it isn’t merely enough to plant the seeds. You must water them and cultivate them and stake the plants as they grow. Most of all, you must pay careful attention to the individual needs of each unique and special plant.
That’s what we hope our students – and especially our high school seniors who are preparing to go on to the next step – experience here at The David School, both as we’ve grown a garden AND as we’ve helped them grow into all they can be. That we’ve had faith in them, that we’ve started over after the inevitable setbacks, that we’ve cared for them, and that we’ve “staked” them up when they needed it. And, most important of all, that we’ve paid loving attention to the unique and beautiful person that each one of them is.

-Diantha Daniels, Principal