Thursday, June 6, 2013

Commencement: A Place to Begin

Yesterday was the day Esther would have graduated from North Quincy High School here in Quincy, Massachusetts. We attended the ceremony and it was good for the soul. Our overall emotions were not those of sadness and regret but rather of gratefulness and comfort. 

We moved to this town when Esther was in the 7th grade. She ended up spending the majority of her years here studying from home but did attend classes off and on (even making the Honor Roll twice!). She also made friends, though realistically she wasn't especially close to any of her classmates. The real blessing is that her fellow students have not forgotten her. Several of them, including many teachers and other staff, remember Esther with much fondness. It's enough for us that they remember her at all, but there's so much more! For example, the school requested TSWGO bracelets be given to each graduate and over the past few weeks this community has gifted us in her memory in several ways. Here are a few: 

The principal (who knew her) began the graduation by saying, "The graduates are all wearing bracelets in memory of Esther Earl, who was part of this class. Let us take a moment to quietly reflect on her life..." 

The senior class president, Melissa Ma (also a friend) mentioned Esther in her speech.  She said, "Speaking of compassion, we wear these green bracelets today in memory of Esther Earl, a fellow classmate of ours. This bracelet represents the compassion she showed to her classmates and that we all show to each other at North, and show daily through our interactions with each other... I hope that whenever you wear this bracelet, you will be reminded of the compassion and the love we have shown to our community, friends and family, just like Esther had shown."

Earlier, in April, at one of the final school assemblies, Lori and I spoke to the entire senior class about Esther's life and legacy. The school purchased copies of John Green's book, The Fault in Our Stars, which were given to each senior after we spoke. 

Then, in May, the first ever "Esther Earl Memorial Scholarship" was awarded to a student who had exhibited an "especially Esther-like love of life and compassion for the world." Someone who, "never forgot to be awesome." Kristen Hayzelden was the first winner and she is an amazing nerdfighter! She attended French class with Esther and they also shared many other interests including Doctor Who and Harry Potter. We are so happy that Kris was recognized and her feelings for Esther are rich, and from the heart. We expect to hear great things from her life in the future! (Read her thoughts about Esther here.) 

Last week, Esther's high school quiz team won the state championship and two of the four starting team members were her irl friends. (The class valedictorian was also a friend.) I guess Esther was a real nerd, after all!

There is one more NQHS related honor involving Esther, and it's a big deal! It's something her fellow students decided but it's still a secret so you'll need to check back with this blog later this summer when we will 'dedicate' space for an update. At that time, all will be revealed.*

I am convinced that all of these stories are signs of life, evidence of new beginnings. And there can be no good start without a previous end. We simply can't keep track of all the awesome that is being done in Esther's name and we cannot catalogue all the giving that she has inspired -it's plainly gotten out of hand! Imagine that, all this goodness gone to seed. It's not the kind of ending I'm used to; rather, it's a legacy, a commencement challenge. 

A place to begin. 

With Esther Earl Memorial Scholarship 
winner Kris Hayzelden

*Update Reveal: On August 7th we learned that Esther's Alma Mater, North Quincy High School, dedicated their 2012-2013 Yearbook to her! Surely, This Star Won't Go Out!


  1. So cool that Esther was a quiz team member- I did it for four years in high school, and my school's team won the first couple years of High School Quiz show after I graduated. Nerdfighters!

  2. I have tears in my eyes and joy in my heart to hear how she has, and continues to, inspire and touch so many. DFTBA, indeed!

  3. I'd only spoken to Esther a few times on Tumblr, but I watched her videos and loved her spirit. She was a great person. She was the kind of person everyone should strive to be. This entry makes me so happy.

  4. Esther is still amazing, in our heart!!

  5. Esther is still amazing, in our heart!!

  6. Hi Wayne, my name is Laura and I am a fan of Esther.
    I was reading "this star won't go out" and this makes me thinking about the life..
    Esther had so many problems and she was always happy and so strong, she is a true star and you and your family deserve the best, for caring about her, and giving her so many reasons to smile! I'm sure she had the best parents!
    I know is impossible, but if you read this someday, send me an e-mail, I will be very grateful (my e-mail is
    Thank you so much, I learned so many precious thing about life with that book!

    Always a fan
    obs: I am fan of all the family