My informant told me of a end-of-year tradition at her school:
“Tree planting is a tradition on campus. At the end of every year, the graduating Class plants a tree on campus. There are some restrictions on us, but for the most part we get to choose the tree. As we live, it continues to grow and be there. One of the important parts is the spade. The ritual involves the spade, which used to be used to dig the hole. Now that the hole is usually made (since the spade is old and special), every member of the Senior Class shovels a bit of dirt to fill in the hole. The Senior Class president is the last person of the Class to put in dirt to fill in the whole, and the rising Senior Class president receives the spade from her and places the final bit of dirt into the hole. Later, people fill it in properly, but the ceremony ends with the next Senior Class president.”
My informant said, “I really like this ceremony because it provides closure to the Seniors and it connects them to the schools history, since most of the trees on campus are planted by previous classes.”
This act is a moment in a liminal space that aids the Seniors in transitioning identities from students to alumnae. Establishing their identities as alumnae by joining their tree with the others, this also helps the graduating Seniors maintain their presence on campus. Through the tree, the alumnae are connected to the school, even when they are not present. Especially because each student plays a role in planting the tree, every one put effort into it and, thus, their spirits remain at school while they are away.