By Marion Dear, Lower School Teacher

Imagine the exuberance of Mardi Gras combined with the excitement of Christmas morning. Now you have Heritage Academy graduation. At daybreak, the graduates parade through the nearby villages to the accompaniment of a brass band and lots of drums. Students from younger classes join them on the way, and the ruckus becomes a community event as the hoard weaves through local villages. Anyone associated with the school struts around the town in the official school uniform. Picture the Philadelphia mummers in blue and white batik.

Essiam parade

The official ceremony, which started at 9:00 (or about 10:30 Ghanaian time), included yet more dancing. My favorite was the African dancing, and I am proud to say I heard every “break” in the drumming. So did the dancers, with precision. I was awed at how they moved as one unit, and it was gorgeous to watch. The most enthusiastic dancers were the members of a club called Herosa. This stands for Heritage Old Scholars’ Association, the proud alumni. At the end of the ceremony a fabulous reunion occurred. During the ceremony, a woman sat next to me to help translate the Twi and Fante in to English. I recognized her as one of my students from my last trip. Her name is Barbara and she is extremely smart. She is also the first Deb Wood Scholar. Later I told Deb that Barbara was at graduation, and they met in person. At that moment a girl turned to me and said, “Hello, Marion. I am Benedicta.” She is the first Marion van Arkel Dear Scholar, and I was hoping to see her on this trip. She is now a teacher of 5 through 11 year olds at a local town. Barbara lives in Accra and is studying government. Here’s a photo of our reunion.


About Westtown School

Westtown School is a Pre-K through 12th grade Quaker, coed, college preparatory day and boarding school in West Chester, PA.
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