The Plaque Project is an Alumni Ambassador driven initiative to create an informal history about the subject matter of certain plaques carved by Middlesex alumni. The Alumni Ambassadors have been in contact with members of the Middlesex Alumni Association since the beginning of the 2011 school year to discuss each of their respective plaques. Plaques are a time honored tradition at Middlesex, and it is a requirement for each senior to carve a plaque before he or she graduates.
When Kate Stearns Symonds ’87 stared down at the image on her plaque ready to carve, she realized that the carving process was not as easy as it seemed. After watching Mr. Russell carve so easily, Kate initially thought the carving process would be fairly “straightforward”; however, she found it practically “impossible.” Having to carve out the little hoof of Ferdinand the Bull and the intricate blades of grass seemed incredibly daunting. Eventually, though with very little time left, Kate finished her plaque, relieved and relaxed, just as her plaque portrayed.
Adjusting to high school and living through it for four years certainly does not come as second nature to most, and Middlesex, now and in the mid–eighties, is and was no different. Although Kate, like most, found her experience at Middlesex rewarding, sometimes she needed some downtime to “detach from the [dramatic high school atmosphere] and to appreciate the little quiet things from time to time.” Just like Ferdinand the Bull, who sits peacefully under his favorite cork tree after deciding against fighting the matador, Kate found that allowing herself to momentarily forget the complications of high school and relax was one her favorite aspects of her Middlesex experience.
When her Middlesex career came to an end, Kate was elated to head off to Trinity College. During her older sister’s interview there, Kate sat, curious yet calm, under a “huge pine tree” waiting for her sister’s admissions interview to conclude, and after just a short period of time, she knew it was the college for her. Essentially, Trinity quickly became Kate’s ‘tree,’ a place where she felt comfortable and relaxed.
When returning to Middlesex, Kate enjoys revisiting her plaque located along the staircase of Eliot Hall. Now when she comes back to campus, she can enjoy her plaque and sit under one of the many large trees surrounding the Circle (possibly with her Great Dane, Ferdinand) and reminisce about her time at Middlesex, relaxing just as she used to do as a student.