Blog Harry W ES

Four­teen Years of Waverly

Blog Harry W MS

by Sydney Walsh

It began on a cool day in the late winter of 2005. My son, Harry, and I were much younger when Harry made his first visit to Waverly as an appli­cant for the preschool. We drove to Pasadena, a drive we ended up making approx­i­mately 4,480 times over the next 13 years. As we walked up the steps of the elemen­tary school, Harry pointed his little finger at the big W on the sign outside and said, It’s the same as me. W like Wilcox,” and then he said, I wish you could stay.” I hid my tears, and with my heart in my throat, I walked him inside. And before we knew it, we were at All School Meeting, where adorable 4‑year-olds stood to make a fire safety PSA and Harry spoke in public for the first time; a hall­mark event for a very quiet little person. As their class announce­ment began, Harry’s friend Olivia cued him with a ques­tion about the danger of fire, and Harry responded briskly, Don’t ever play with matches. Ever.” And then: thun­der­ous applause from the other students, parents, and teach­ers in the room. Suddenly, Harry, a child of few words on an average day, looked more like himself. Rapture followed, as it did for most of the days that came after. 

This was the lovely begin­ning of our son’s formal educa­tion. And there would be Bob books, the excep­tional beauty of numbers, spelling in the car, a duct tape fashion show, journal entries, the first band in 4th grade, the Spring Spot­light perfor­mance of Hey Ho at Thorne Hall in hipster beanies, Kronos was a Titan” (a million verse song in the style of Bob Dylan), a song he wrote and performed for 6th grade cele­bra­tion, all sorts of sports, but mostly basket­ball with his besties; there would be middle school heart­break, high school confi­dence, dancing (so much dancing), music, life­long FRIENDS, laugh­ing, more dancing, and love. True love, the love of teach­ers who make every­thing light up, and the love of so many commu­nity members who help you know your child. And it all goes in an instant, a flash. 

The Waverly School was at the center of our world for 14 years. Recently, as we sat on the tables in the back of one of the bunga­lows packed full for Harry’s senior project, all those discus­sions and read­ings made perfect sense. All of that led him to create this one project, that was at first about music, but ended up being about iden­tity, truth, and faith in a commu­nity devoted to the indi­vid­ual. On that warm June evening, we once again learned that every child who visits or attends Waverly is held in the highest esteem and embraced, univer­sally, with heart, spirit, and deep respect. 

And then it’s August 2019, and we are driving among the blind­ingly green meadows and fields of Mass­a­chu­setts: we are taking Harry to college. We are walking up the steps and feeling the same urgency of hoping for the best, hoping for commu­nity. Commu­nity is Harry’s stated goal for college, which he learned at Waverly is the best part of living, except this time, he is 18. He carries the gift of Waverly in his soul, in his pockets, and in the invis­i­ble tattoo on his heart. This new school begins with a W too. And as we hugged tightly and said goodbye for now, we waved and smiled and hid our tears and knew that he would be okay.