Nearly 150 members of The Seattle School community gathered on Saturday, June 7, for the Spring Banquet. Held annually and hosted by Student Leadership, the Spring Banquet is an opportunity for members of The Seattle School community to mark the passing of another academic year with remembrance and celebration. Students, alumni, faculty, and staff gather to share a meal, hear reflections on the year that has passed, and play together.
One of the highlights of the Spring Banquet is the presentation of the La Danse Award, named after Henri Matisse’s La Danse, a painting that has come to be an icon for the communal life of The Seattle School. The La Danse Award is given annually to The Seattle School community collectively and also to four individuals—one faculty, one staff, and two students or spouses. These individuals are those among us who remind us of the community we have set out to be—those who continue to risk, to participate, and to embody this way of life in our midst and on our behalf.
This year’s La Danse Award recipients, chosen from nominations submitted by The Seattle School community, were Dr. Chelle Stearns, Assistant Professor of Theology; Ligaya Avila, Accountant; Heather Barnes, MDiv and MACP student; and Elise Hale-Case, MACP.
Each year, words from the nominations are read as the La Danse Award recipients are announced. Below are some of these statements of appreciation about this year’s recipients:
“Chelle created a safe place for different theologies to be explored. She provided helpful ideas, resources, and structure when writing papers. Her ability to read text and culture was matched this year by her ability to read souls and work to address trauma in our experience of theology.”
“Ligaya is a relentlessly cheerful and positive co-worker who very much embodies the Rule. She has demonstrated time and time again that she is very much in harmony with our community… She very much embodies our community’s commitment to demonstrate a heart that embodies God in relationships with others.”
“Heather is a consistent, helpful presence at the school. She manages to balance the craziness that being both a student and a student worker with grace and maturity.”
“Elise has shown dedication to this school in many ways… Elise cares. She cares for our school, for textual growth and knowledge, and for the Seattle community.”
Additionally, each year a new artist is selected to create the La Danse Award. This year, Melissa Rudin Yakey, a first year MACP student, was selected as the year’s La Danse Award Artist and created hand-made books. “When I was in art school, my advisor taught me that even the most mundane things have the possibility to become beautiful pieces of art,” Melissa explained. “We use books every day, and often we find ourselves reading as fast as we can to get the information we need so we can move quickly on to the next. [For the La Danse Award,] I wondered what it would look like to create a book—something so integral to our studies—that represented the uniqueness of our community. In honor of this years theme, ‘Making Waves,’ I made these books to flow, through its accordion style, colors, pictures, and the poem “For Freedom,” written by John O’Donohue. The making of these books became a dance in themselves.”
The night would not have been complete without the recognition of Molly Clarke Kenzler and Dr. Jo-Ann Badley, both leaving The Seattle School community this year after many years of service and devotion. Members of the community read words of gratitude and remembrance and presented both Molly and Dr. Badley with parting gifts. Molly was given a prayer wheel and Dr. Badley a hand-bound book, each containing prayers and blessings to take with them as their journeys continue.