“Semesters end with a whimper,” I complained to my students. We’re a small science school, and most of our courses finish with cumulative final exams and big research projects. Students have so much work to do during the last two weeks of class that they often resemble zombies, stumbling about in a sleep-deprived state. Faculty, facing grant deadlines, contentious faculty meetings, and stacks of papers to be graded, are usually functioning at an even lower level, since their older bodies can’t be jump-started with a jolt of caffeine.
But yesterday, for the last class of the semester, one of my students brought her guitar. At the end of the hour, she took the guitar out of the case and came to the front of the room. We formed a circle around her, a roomful of sophomores, juniors, and seniors from all different departments on campus who have been reading, talking, and exploring ideas together all semester. We've shared stories and food and poetry.
She played Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi and sang every verse, while two other classmates drummed the rhythm and classmates chimed in on the chorus.
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone.
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot.
A lovely end to the semester.