Section: Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor: A farewell playlist for seniors

Greetings and a big virtual hug from your punk rock campus mom,

I hope this message finds you well. We are living in unprecedented times and sharing a collective global human experience. How are you holding up right now? What is your current story? Feel free to drop me a line at my Kenyon address: petersenh@kenyon.edu. I miss you all and would love to hear how you’re doing!

I’m doing fine here in Ohio. I live alone and have a heart condition. It is a little unnerving to have a preexisting condition during this time, but I’m staying home and thankful for good health. My neighbors and I are looking out for each other. I video chat regularly with my family. I have enough food to last at least 30 days. I’m making art in my home studio, deep cleaning my apartment and making fitness a priority again. Yes, binge-watching Netflix/Hulu is also happening and I’m trying to keep my news intake minimal.

My neighbor across the street will have her second son later this month. My brother is working 70-plus hours a week delivering fresh, organic Ohio produce to our local community. My healthy dad is home taking care of my high-risk mom. My sister-in-law is working with my 10-year-old nephew at home. Someone else very close to me is working long, stressful hours overseeing a multimillion-dollar Ohio highway infrastructure project.

Who are your heroes right now? Have you told them how amazing they are? Call them up and tell them. Your words are too important to text.

Many of you know that I’m a WKCO DJ. I spend my last show of each school year sharing the same special playlist for seniors. I felt very sad about missing that opportunity this year and reached out to the Collegian. I’m thrilled to share the titles of these songs with you here in these pages!

The last of the songs on my playlist is “Young Lion” from Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City. I’m a classically trained pianist and loved it from the first listen. As the story goes, Rostam Batmanglij wrote the song based on an experience Ezra Koening had while finishing their second record, Contra. Ezra was walking quickly down a New York City street when a stranger stopped him and said, “You take your time, young lion.”

When I created this playlist for seniors a few years ago, I didn’t know that story. Still, I felt it was the perfect song to end each school year. The simplicity of the single line lyric truly captures the spirit of my heart each May. “Young Lion” always runs through my head on Commencement Day as I hug parents and my students in their caps and gowns. Because this year is different from all other years we’ll ever know, I share that Commencement Day spirit here.

You take your time, young lions. In this life, you will love and lose and amaze yourself with your own resilience. Take your time to learn and live and become. Taking your time does not have to mean a slower pace. To me, it means recognizing the process of your experiences. In this unfathomable time, seniors, you are persevering. You are finishing something amazing because of your resilience and inner drive to succeed, regardless of the current pandemic. You’re really doing it. Revel in that truth. When potential employers see your Kenyon degree, they will know you are capable, intelligent and strong. Wear it like a badge of pride. You have earned it and I’m so very proud of all of you. You have touched my life with your kindness, laughter and honesty.

Many thanks to the Collegian for giving me some space to share with you today. It means a lot. I’d also like to thank them for the recent staff editorial recognizing our campus leadership during these unusual circumstances. Even putting the current pandemic aside, I know this has been a challenging year. I know students have felt unheard and discouraged. I also know that our campus leaders care deeply about you, not just as Kenyon students, but as human beings. This care is a constant for them every single day. They worked tirelessly around the clock to adjust the school’s plan and made difficult decisions with your wellbeing in mind. I’m proud to work with these colleagues. We are Kenyon and we’re stronger when we stand together. How can we build understanding and learn from each other next year? I’d love to hear your ideas.

To all my students: It’s such a pleasure to share my campus life with you. Please be safe and know I’m sending light your way. In turn, I ask you to shine your own light brightly in this world, wherever you are. Be proud of the person you are becoming. Take chances and do the things you’ve dreamed of.

You take your time, young lions.

Heather Petersen

Playlist:

Living Saints—Polar Bear Club

Graze—Animal Collective

Float On—Modest Mouse

The Globe—Big Audio Dynamite

Scoundrel Days—a-ha

Peace of Mind—The Ocean Blue

Forever Young—Alphaville

First Breath After Coma—Explosions in the Sky

Tomorrow—Bad Religion

I Believe—R.E.M.

Brace Yourself—Les Savy Fav

Young Lion—Vampire Weekend

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