Portrait Project


Each year we ask our classmates a straightforward, simple question taken from the last lines of a poem by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Mary Oliver. We share with you intimate and candid responses to this question, "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

The Summer Day

by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean -
the one who has flung herself
  out of the grass, the one who is eating sugar out
  of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and
  forth instead of up and down -
who is gazing around with her
  enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and
  thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open,
  and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention,
  how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down
  in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how
  to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Send Comments/Questions.
Read people's comments about the Portrait Project.

2012 Student Leaders: Meredith Cantrell, and Chris Kaleel

Class of 2012

Edo Bedzra

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Stephanie Belcher

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Meredith Cantrell

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Shirley Cardona

I'm glad I sweat the small stuff...

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Leo Chang

I will run with my baton...

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Jake Cusack

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Emily Davis

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Aditya Dhanrajani

I will build.

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Stephen Elliott

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Juan Felix

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Kaelin Goulet

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Clare Hawthorne

It may not be sexy, but I'll make sure it's useful...

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Grace Hou

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Tomiwa Igun

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Cameron Johnson

I love my scars.

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Chris Kaleel

I will go all in.

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Allison Kean

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Maliha Khan

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Amy Long

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Sahar Meghani

I want to live for two...

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Matt Naunheim

My parents gave me scars...

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Ali Nuger

It is no longer a question. I can have it all...

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Antonio Rocha

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Genevieve Sheehan

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Emily Slota

I was raised to speak truth to power.

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Michael David A. Son

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Maxeme Tuchman

"A kid got shot at the football game on Friday. Is he one of your students?"

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Serge Vartanov

When I was sixteen, I had three loves: martial arts, video games, and this really cute boy who sat next to me in Algebra II...

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Dina Wang

My dad taught me everything I know about art and beauty. After he passed away, I found it difficult to see much beauty. I was blinded—an artist's worst nightmare...

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