School's out for summer

Sigh. Graduation Day -- which, having been through several at this point, I think is by nature slightly anticlimactic -- is over. Everyone donned their best outfits and crammed into Wallace House to be feted and honored by staff, faculty, family members and miscellaneous members of the academic community. 04.20.06-12Charles gave a thoughtful (if not hopeful) state of the union about the year in journalism before handing out a variety of, uh, unique awards to fellows. They also received a lovely framed certificate and photo of the class.

Chris won the "Elliot Ness Award" for his sleuthing and commitment to fighting online crime, which seems perfectly fitting. On the other hand, Vanessa's "Belly Dancing Award, Amateur Division" puzzled most of us, including her.

Tony, Jamie and Fara delivered lovely speeches in an attempt to wrap up a year that is, in many ways, indescribable -- accompanied by a nice slide show Chuck put together. Though our three reps delivered very different speeches, each representative of the individual, the common theme among them was not the professional development or the contacts made or the academic achievement. It was the friendships we've formed.

I think we all know that in twenty years, we'll remember the people who influenced us and pushed us to grow far better than the study topic each fellow selected when applying for the fellowship.

There were more than a few teary eye in the crowd. (Besides Rainey, of course.) In fact, I claim two of them.

04.20.06-04Then we made a big to-do of presenting the traditional class gift to the Wallace House. Bearing in mind that it's supposed to be something useful to the 2006-2007 fellowship class, we decided that a giant, high-end kitchen island with two beautiful red leather and chrome stools was the route to go. (Many thanks to Lisa for enduring all of our input in selecting the gift and arranging it's delivery.)

Amy Butters and the Butter Beans even decorated a couple of Wallace House aprons with maize and blue handprints. Perfect for cooking those gigantic group dinners the next round of victims don't yet know anything about.

We finished up the evening by refusing to leave the Wallace House, snacking on the delicious spread they laid out and lingering inside for while before gathering on the front porch. One last go on the porch swing before reality sets in. If there's one thing that was made clear by the day -- and here, I'm not braggin', just sayin' -- it's that we've been a truly unique class. Eisendrath mentioned in his talk that from day one, we've used the Wallace House to greater advantage and organized more group activities than any class before. Sunday brunches, Friday film nights, Thursday poker gatherings, tango lessons, wine tastings, Valerie Laken's narrative writing workshop, the Fairy Tale party, etc.

04.20.06-01From the start, we've sought out each other and created opportunities to get to know each other in more intimate settings. Of course, not everyone attended every event, but there was enough variety that if you were willing to show up, you had the chance to get to know everyone. Kids included -- and that can be difficult in a class where the majority of us don't have any.

And our fun's not over yet. Tonight we're blazing new trails by having the first Knight-Wallace Fellowship prom, as planned by a stellar committee including Vanessa, Fara, Lisa, Kim and Min-Ah. (Forgive me if I've forgotten anyone else.) Sound a little cheesy? A little silly? A little weird?

You bet. And that's the Knight-Wallace Fellowship Class in a nutshell.