Vocabulary Envy

8773866722_ec971d029bDid you know what an apotheosis is—some kind of reaction to medication or an arrangement of dividing chromosomes or a honeybee goddess or something, right? Neither did I, until one of those smarty-pants graduating Marlboro students used it in his commencement speech and I had to go look it up. Senior Speaker Evan Lamb said, “Right now, I’m standing at the top of my own personal mountain, and it feels like a tiny apotheosis.” Okay, by that point I had ruled out honeybee goddess, but I still had to look it up: a•poth•e•o•sis (noun): highest level of glory or power, transformation into deity. Pretty awesome, I know, and I had to hand it to Evan: I was a tiny bit jealous of his tiny apotheosis.

8773871324_6ee2ec2a83Commencement 2013 went off without a hitch, by the way—all the pomp and ritual you’d expect from a venerable institution of higher learning like Marlboro, with no missteps or costume malfunctions, unless you count Kalie Kamara’s New York Yankee’s cap. President Ellen was gracious as ever, and the commencement address from Governor Peter Shumlin encouraged Marlboro graduates to use their skills and imagination to define a carbon-free future. Outgoing Dean of Students Ken Schneck delivered a heart-felt valediction including a poem he wrote in seventh grade.

8773869924_cebd257592But our man Evan really stole the show, with his tiny apotheosis, his itty-bit of godly transformation. All his tales of wriggling through crushing caves, and biking over ice and snow, and crashing into the dining hall at full speed, and sweating through the Seminar on Religion, Literature, and Philosophy, and cooking apple pie during a power outage, and getting lost on Town Trail in the middle of the night without a flashlight or a shirt, this is the epic stuff of Marlboro legend. I mean, the Hindu Vedas and the Icelandic sagas and the Australian Dreamtime Stories have got nothing on Evan, and every student in the room was just as captivated as if he was telling tales of Thor laying waste to legions of evil jötnar. Okay, maybe not that captivated, but Evan’s point was well taken—every graduate had their own epic list of Marlboro adventures to take with them. We wish them all well in their future quests, and journeys, and jötnar encounters.

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Orals Fixation

DSCN0801smallAh, spring. It’s that time of year when the hills and forests are ringing with the sound of “hoot-hoot-hoot!” and “ah-woooo-gah!” and “honk-ah-honk-ah-honk-ooooh!” and, well, you get the idea. The Annual Windham County Hog Calling Competition, you might guess? Nope, it’s the time for oral exams and the concomitant celebrations that happen after each graduating senior leaps this last hurdle. I mean, nothing warms the heart of this crusty old, world-weary, jaded, jaundiced—and, well, you get the idea—nothing brings out the daffodils and lilacs in my heart like Marlboro students cheering on their comrades after orals, celebrating and hugging like they just won The Next Food Network Star or something.

Orals are kinda mysterious for those of us who only get to hug the examinees and enjoy the food and libations assembled on the lawn in their honor. It’s like a clandestine rite of passage or something, a ritual to enter the secret society known as the Benevolent Order of Marlboro Graduates. According to Nikki Haug (somewhere in the middle of that group hug, above), who recently learned the secret handshake herself, there is no blood-letting or scarification or other ritualistic practices involved. She say’s it’s not only an opportunity to impress your outside examiner that you’ve thought deeply about the concepts in your Plan, but also to show them how much other stuff you’ve learned along the way.

DSCN0799small“Your orals are supposed to demonstrate both that you know your stuff and that you know other stuff,” said Nikki in a blog post called, “Most everything you will ever want to know about Plan.” This post has many helpful suggestions, ranging from “Get a Plan Buddy,” to “You will read things that won’t help you,” to “You will always feel like you could do more—and that’s probably true—but you need to know when to stop.” Nikki wrote a truly remarkable Plan about Victorian poets Robert Browning and Lord Alfred Tennyson and their critiques on materialism, especially in relation to the theory of evolution by natural selection, so her sound advice stands to help many future inductees to the secret society. “Ah-woooo-gah!”

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