Seniors in the program are asked to select a book and write a dedication from them to all students in the program, present and future, who might benefit from reading their legacy book. After they write their dedications, staff talks about what each senior’s real “legacy” is to our little family, and we write another paragraph after theirs about what we feel their real gifts to the program were. These dedication panels go right in the front of the books they pick out, and they ceremoniously place them on our “Legacy Bookshelf,” the one with the Christmas lights you might have seen if you’ve walked by the Vine Suite.
It was pure happenstance that this year’s ceremony took place last Thursday, instead of in the spring, as in the past. Many of our seniors were moving on early: graduating or going into work study, and it didn’t seem right to not have the Senior Awards Brunch for them, too. So, we did.
Each senior left us with a book, their words about it, and some description of them meant to last long after they walked out of our doors, meant to keep a memory of them alive here in our space when they wouldn’t wander in from the main hallway anymore, meant to preserve some part of themselves so we could use their spirit for years to come when we try to inspire others who feel like they once did.
We also gave each senior an award to commemorate something special about them which they excelled at—some talent or passion which highlighted their contributions to this program and to their world.
What follows is the text of all 6 dedication panels left by our senior class, as well as the title of the award they received. They were printed and read at our senior brunch on Thursday, January 11th, on what would turn out to be the last day of senior Jake Baird’s young life.
The books that he and his class dedicated are on our Legacy Tree, and the award certificate that he received was still in his pocket when he passed away.
We are stunned and saddened by the loss of Jake, and so strangely grateful that these were our last memories together.
The Project Vine Class of 2018 Book Dedications
Nauamy Alves, winner of the Diplomat and Activist Award for Speaking Up and Reaching Out
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
“I want to leave behind something that shows the meaning of loyalty and honesty, which to me, mean everything.
The book I leave for all of you is The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.
This book not only teaches, but demonstrates what it truly means to be a part of a family through thick and thin. Family is not measured by the blood we share but by the loyalty dedicated to one another in desperate times, and in good ones, too. To truly be in sync with this book, I’d suggest listening to some light ‘50s Greaser music. All in all, this book is a representation of Project Vine as a community. Like the characters in this book, we as individuals of all shapes and all sizes have come together through a bond to form a family for many more years to come.”
This book was dedicated by Nauamy Alves, class of 2018, who will be remembered as a passionate voice in our program, an emissary of sorts, whose gifts in life are not just her ability to speak to literally everyone, but her desire to actually do so. Nauamy’s appearance in our program documentary in 2017 highlighted the importance of the hands-on aspect of what we do here, and her voice will serve to inform and recruit future Project Vine students for years to come, in both English and Portuguese. Her scholarly work was thoughtful, compelling and inclusive in voice. Yet, along with those academic accomplishments, her willingness to be both silly when the time was right, and serious as needed, and her desire to hold her fellow students and staff as close as family are her legacy to this program.
Shammai Thompson, Winner of the Information Technology Specialist Award for Pursuing Knowledge of His Own Interests and Teaching Others
Reality Boy by A. S. King
“I chose this book to be on the Legacy Tree because it is one of the only books I’ve read being in high school that I really enjoyed. It’s about a kid who has to get over being on a reality tv show when he was younger and how he struggles with that. It’s an interesting read and even though I finished it pretty fast, it gave me a view into someone else's life and made me appreciate the way I grew up. What my teenage life turned into was in part because of what I read in this book.”
This book was dedicated by Shammai Thompson, class of 2018, who from his first days in Project Vine, brought humor and a smile to our space, and was there to constantly remind us how important it is to have fun with what we do. Shammai pushed himself to do work that needed to be done, even when it was clear he did not want to it. But his ability to work through what was necessary to do is not his greatest contribution to Project Vine. Though he might have sworn otherwise, Shammai could be counted on to be generous, inclusive and kind to his fellow students here, and that will be his legacy to this program.
Walter Greene, winner of the Transcendental Philosopher Award for Inspiring Thought About Being and Knowledge
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
“Leaves of Grass is a collection of Walt Whitman’s most notable work: all of the poems in it are loosely connected by his thoughts, feelings and perspectives. These poems were always a staple of my life. Growing up, hardly a dinner party passed where my dad didn't bring this book out and read a few poems from it. I always took it for granted but later, I realized that not that many people actually read poetry and even fewer share it openly. Life is about growing and what better way than to expose yourself to as many thoughts as you can? If something rings true, then explore that deeper. That's my hope in leaving this book for you: to listen to him and maybe take away a thought or perspective of his and apply it to your life... or don't— he won't know and neither will I. Anyways, it’s pretty good and worth taking a look at.”
This book was dedicated by Walter Greene, class of 2018. Walter was, during his time in our program, an effortless leader in part because he is incapable of being a follower. No stature, rank or authority of any kind earns more respect from Walt than he affords any other human being, meaning he both teaches and learns from pretty much everyone he encounters. The very definition of an open mind and the student who most distinctly heard the fabled own drummer of H.D. Thoreau’s words, Walt will be remembered for his art, his words, and his work, but it his attitude, his willingness to be present and learn from experience in every form that is his legacy to this program.
Annie Bettencourt, Winner of the Recipe Author Award for Observing and Anticipating Needs Nutritionally and Interpersonally
Better Homes & Gardens Baking
“I left this book to Project Vine because I planned many food-related events here, and this is most relevant. It was gifted to me as my first baking book and I would like to do the same. This book drove me to love what I will do for the rest of my life. The cake recipes within here have become staples in my repertoire. The variety in here can interest any level and go from easy to complicated. I hope to be remembered by some of the events I have planned like the Project Vine Lunch, the food at the Haunted Histories Storytelling Night and our Chopped for Charity Event. Bon appetite!”
This book was dedicated by Annie Bettencourt, Class of 2018. Though quiet and reserved to those who might not know her well, Annie has a joy for the important things in life, and a deep understanding of the people and events around her that those who got to know her well were lucky enough to enjoy in her time here. Annie will most certainly be remembered for her love of preparing food for us and for all to enjoy, but that’s not all. It was her willingness to give voice to and life to her ideas, even if preferably to just one person at a time, that is Annie’s legacy to this program.
Jake Hairston, Winner of the Improvised Musician Award for Pursuing Knowledge of His Own Interests and Teaching Others
The Rifle by Gary Paulsen
“I picked this book because it is a very entertaining read. It teaches a valuable lesson that just because you have reached the end of the path doesn't mean your journey is over and that anything could happen at any moment, so stay humble. I think that those lessons are good things to leave to the kids of this program.”
This book was dedicated by Jake Hairston, Class of 2018, who gladly fills the world with music when given the right instrument and opportunity. While it may have seemed that he often forgot behind him a wake of papers, bookbags, jackets and even shoes, he was secretly always aware of where to find those things when he needed them next. Jake was in his element performing, whether singing, playing instruments, telling a story or exquisitely playing King Lear in our live Lear Feast in 2017. Jake’s legacy to this program is the idea that every student takes a different path...some with a better soundtrack than others.
Jake Baird, Winner of the Renaissance Man Award for being Skilled Mechanic with Cars, Words and Numbers
The Giver by Lois Lowry
“I'm leaving this book with Project Vine in hopes that people realize sharing is more valuable than keeping— money, thoughts, food, feelings. In my time in Project Vine, I was sort of a lonely person in the beginning. I had friends, relationships and family but I shut everyone out and was sort of mean. Over time I realized that in life, you get what you give. This book helped me see that by sharing, you can accomplish more with other people than keeping to yourself. I hope that this book helps you realize that giving is better than receiving.”
This book was dedicated by Jake Baird, class of 2018. Like many students before and after him, Jake struggled to find meaning and purpose in his world, and was willing to discuss and debate things at length in an earnest quest to find just those things. A gifted writer who stole the show at the Haunted Histories Live Storytelling Event in 2017, Jake brushed aside compliments of his written work and continued to value the real-world work of mechanics and engineering. More importantly than that, though, always an ear or a shoulder ready for a friend who might need it, Jake’s legacy to this program is his deep desire that we value each other more than we value anything else.
To all of our seniors: Stay gold. Don't forget us, don't forget what you learned here, and don't forget each other. Not any of you will be soon forgotten.