2018-08-02 / Editorial

Lawn helped us take steps forward

OFF MY LAWN
EVA JUNGE

Editor’s note: Eva Junge is a former student at Lawn School. About once a month, she offered her take on one of her experiences at the school.

Following our graduation goodbyes this past June, I walked out of the gymnasium with one of my friends toward the Lawn School shoe tree (yes, that exists).

A shoe tree is just a regular tree that has been decorated with shoes thrown onto its branches for various reasons. She took her falling-apart shoes she had worn throughout all of seventh grade, tied the laces together and threw them onto the tree.

She threw away laps in P.E., walking toward class for our history day presentations, and pacing before every test. But she also left the memory of recess with friends, tapping to the beat during band and dancing to Hamilton. She forgot the worn-out soles and holes and left the mark of her footprints at the school forever. It’s the idea of graduation — leaving your mark on the school, but also being able to start over and be a better person every year.

Throughout history, shoe trees have been a sign of kindness, generosity and rebirth. A sign of starting a new chapter in your life.

During the Great Depression, people would leave shoes in trees for those who couldn’t afford them to take and use. During World War II, soldiers returning home would throw their boots into trees as a symbol of starting over and beginning a new chapter in their lives. They were done with the fighting, the loss and the pain and ready for a new start.

Well, school definitely isn’t as intense as war — but there are some connections here. We’re throwing away our sneakers into the trees, saying we’re done with the work, the stress and the pain — we’re ready for a break, to make new friends, to start over.

Every year, we get to try something new, to be someone new. Maybe next year, we’ll be the person to leave their shoes for others — we’ll be more generous and more kind. Or maybe we’ll tie our laces and be ready to start a new sport or club.

Not everyone wants to just throw their shoes into the tree and say goodbye. Being a 2018 graduate, I’ll miss Lawn and all the friends I made there. I’ll miss the PE laps, running (I mean walking) to each class, and tapping to the beat during a band concert I’d been stressing about. Every bit of nerves, every bit of stress teaches us a lesson and makes us stronger.

Though my sneakers aren’t yet in that tree, I know all of our memories will reside in those soles forever. We don’t have to just say goodbye — we also can use those shoes to leave a piece of ourselves in the school, to leave our memories, to give a piece of our lives that will stay frozen forever in the branches.

Some of us are going on to eighth grade, ready to be the eldest in the school. Some of us are moving on to a new school, to be the youngest again.

No matter where you’re going, or what grade you’ll be in, graduation is a time to remember your friends, to learn from your mistakes and to forget about the tears and remember the cheers.

Everyone has those steps they wished never happened, and those sprints they’ll never forget. But every memory makes us stronger and wiser, ready to face our fears.

We’ll miss you Lawn, but at least we’re leaving a legacy.

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