Ethel Walker’s Memorial Chapel

Today was the autumn memorial Chapel at The Ethel Walker School, where I went to high school. The school had let me know that my friend Stori’s name would be read and bells would be rung for her. A link to the live stream was provided so I could watch the service.

This is the second year in a row I have been sent the link to the service since they rang the bells last year for my father as he was considered a friend of the school and included in that memorial list.

Just before the service was to begin I got a message from Stori’s sister Lilea telling me she was logged into to watch. I was happy to be able to message Lilea through the service so it felt like we were there together.

When I was a student at Walker’s I was the head of the Northfield League, which was the group who ran the bi-weekly chapel services. Seeing the familiar chapel on my screen and hearing the beautiful organ music made me feel right at home. The chapel is where I developed my love of public speaking.

There were some familiar parts of the service which have been the same since I was a student. The choir sings the same song in the same way. The student body and guests sing “For the beauty of the earth,” my favorite hymn. And the Names of the Alum’s who we had lost in the past six months are read first, then the friends of the school.

Today Stori Stockwell Cadigan was the first name on the list and the youngest alumna by 20 years. It did make me feel good that all of the others were at least 80 years old and much older than that.

One thing that was different at this Memorial Chapel from one’s in my day was the main speaker. Harrison Shure, the assistant head of school, gave the remarks about the loss of his father in 2011 when he was a teenager. The new and refreshing part was that he is a gay man who spoke openly about being gay and how he was sorry his father had passed before he had come out. He was sure his father would have been an excellent parent of a gay man giving many funny examples of what he envisioned his father would have done as an ally.

It was a pleasure to listen to Harrison speak and I felt confident that he is an excellent assistant head of school. I am even more happy that an all girls school embraces him as an important part of the community. Diversity at Walkers is very important and it is valuable to have diversity of every kind this day and age.

The chapel service was beautiful and I am thankful to have been able to watch it. Stori was a supportive alumna and friend of the school. I will miss having her beside me in the pews at reunion chapels, but know that our classmates will hold her in our hearts.

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