“It were a grief so brief to part with thee. Farewell.” – William Shakespeare.
Parting is such sweet sorrow, and having to say goodbye to a teacher who has given as much as she has to one school, Rochester Memorial School staff and students lamented in saying goodbye as much as they rejoiced in having had the opportunity to have worked beside or been taught by Danni Kleimann, who retired on Wednesday, June 21, after 31 years of teaching at RMS.
Kleimann is well known for directing the annual Shakespeare play, as well as conducting the yearly last day of school “send-off” from atop a wooden platform, baton in hand, while staff members follow her lead and send the students off with a bang each summer.
This past Wednesday was Kleimann’s final send-off, which tugged at the heartstrings of all who participated or witnessed it. Nevertheless, the send-off, as usual, was a smashing sensation.
The long line of school busses made its way to the rear of the school, circling the massive parking lot over and over again past the curb lined with teachers and staff playing horns, banging drums, clattering maracas, and dancing with end-of-the-year school vacation glee.
The yellow busses chug by one after the next, scores of little arms and hands waving out the windows as they pass, the excitement building after each bus takes another round, everyone wondering if this would be the last or if it would take another pass by before pulling out towards the street one last time before vacation.
Still managing to conduct her crew’s cacophony with her baton while waving at the students with her hand, Kleimann experienced her moment, no matter how brief, as it hung there suspended in time. The bittersweetness was palpable, and Kleimann’s face said it all as she choked back her emotion, smiled at her students, and left them with an animated image of how they always remembered her, and would always remember her.
After the busses exited and the crowd moved to disperse, Kleimann called out, “Wait a minute! Wait a minute!” She turned to sixth grade teacher Tracy Forns, held out her baton and passed it on to Forns, symbolizing the literal passing on of the baton and the treasured RMS tradition.
“Wait!” Kleimann called out again, bending slightly to remove her traditional send-off tuxedo tails, and helped Forns into the jacket. The two embraced and finally the tears were free to fall.
The Wanderer congratulates Ms. Kleimann on her retirement and wishes her many fulfilling years ahead.
By Jean Perry