Every year we go through four transitional periods, at the beginning and end of the two semesters. Each has its own particular characteristics, but the common element is that, over a short period, the school goes from full to empty, or empty to full.
The end-of-spring semester is particularly intense: everyone racing to complete coursework while also nailing down details for jobs and internships. This year was the last in which April included the thesis-completion scramble; starting in 2010-11, February 15 is the thesis deadline, spreading the frenzy more evenly across the spring term.
But, eventually, everything is complete, and students start to move out. Two weeks ago (Monday, May 3) was the first “reading day” for preparing for exams. The Hall of Flags was still buzzing and the library was even busier. Only a week later, first-year students had started to peel way, grabbing a few days for a quick break or heading directly to internships. Today, Fletcher is a ghost town, as if some huge exhaust fan had blown all the students to a distant location.
In fact, we know that most graduating students are still nearby, taking part in the day’s Dis-Orientation events. (Dis-Orientation was “invented” a few years back as a counter-balance to the Orientation that launches students’ Fletcher careers.) This year’s Dis-O activities include a few visits to museums, a day of community service, and a whole lot of hanging around together, reminiscing about soon-to-conclude Fletcher days.
Commencement is Sunday. By Monday, the staff will be ready to start the summer stretch of projects that aren’t compatible with the semester’s work pace. It will be quiet, and we’ll enjoy the mellow atmosphere for a while, knowing that our next transition (empty-to-full) will come soon.