Graduation eve

Most people don't expect to be at the library the night before commencement. But that's where Simon Grote found himself last week at 11:15 p.m. The Harvard senior was returning books. Seven suitcases' worth, according to Leslie Chu, a fellow student who contributed these observations of the evening.

The late-night shuttle capped off an evening of receptions and dining with roommates and their families. Topics ranged from "the next step" to the meaning of happiness - an early start in putting that college education to the test.

It's not what Mr. Grote had anticipated. (For more seniors' views, see page 13.) As with many students, goodbyes were bypassed, even as new realities dawned (I'm leaving the center of the universe, where friends and resources and prime real estate are at my fingertips).

Grote, who had envisioned being with all his friends, said it was nonetheless a satisfying night. "This was a vivid, unusual experience," he said. As for his roommates, "It always seemed that we would be in touch, so I didn't feel that urgency to say goodbye."

Another classmate, Maggie Coe, wound down a day spent with family and friends by packing and writing out cards for her eight roommates. She dined alone on a sub, but then tradition took over.

"We have a ceremony we've done since we were freshmen," she said. "We take dried ... petals from all the flowers we've received or bought during the year and ... take them down to the footbridge and ... throw them in [the river] and talk. This year, we saved it for the night before graduation. We went down about 11:30 and were still sitting there at midnight when it became graduation day."

E-mail newcomba@csps.com.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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