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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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Clare Roarty

Photo by Alex Fontana.

Clare Roarty `22 knows she will never find another program like Neverland, Grinnell’s student-theatre group that collaborates with preschool-aged children to write and adapt their stories to the Wall Performance Lab stage.

Roarty said she hopes to use the skills and confidence she learned from Grinnell to her next adventure. In addition to Neverland, she has been a part of the Women’s Frisbee team, the Grinneleanor Roosevelts (the Svelts), where she currently serves as captain,

“Grinnell has given me a lot of opportunities to be in charge of things in a way I never had before, make decisions for organizations that I care about to make them tangibly better and put in work that feels like it matters,” she said

Roarty is deciding between an elementary English teaching position in France and a service-based teaching position in Des Moines (she’s leaning towards France). She majored in French and religious studies and hopes to end up in elementary education as a youth services librarian or in ministry.

“At the moment, I’m leaning towards elementary education, but that changes weekly,” Roarty said. “But I definitely know I will be working with kids in some capacity. I think that’s my priority.”

Neverland has changed the way she interacts with children. Roarty has experience as a camp counselor, babysitter and tutor, but there’s a special element to Neverland, she said.

“You’re just with the kids, like you’re sitting down with equals to some extent, and trying to figure what they want to write about.”

Rather than childcare where the adult is leading and managing the kids, Roarty instead appreciates being able to focus on the kids’ “pure and simple” imaginations.

She has been a Neverland “player” for all four years at Grinnell, and directed the group her second year after the fourth-year leaders handed it down to her.

“I definitely felt a lot of pressure to keep this organization alive. … Obviously there were other people who were invested in it, but ultimately it was me who was in charge during this transition period.”

Frisbee has also taught her valuable teaching skills she plans to put into practice. As a captain, she had to teach drills to her team, set up practice and organize tournaments for the team.

“I didn’t anticipate all of the work which was a bit of a learning curve,” Roarty said. She started as a team member, then was treasurer, and then became captain this year. “You build connections with people on the team that I don’t think I would have if I hadn’t been captain.”

Roarty spent a lot of time with Professor Tyler Roberts, who advised her religious studies major before he passed away last summer. She took three classes on religion with Roberts.

“I took my first religious studies class with him on spirituality, and he ripped into my writing, pushed me a lot … through his classes and reading his feedback I was able to actually see tangible growth. … He was my most influential professor.” Her senior seminar for religious studies is focused on her Unitarian Universalist church, Unity Temple, in her hometown of Oak Park, Illinois. “I’m looking at how youth are negotiating in their memories of religious education,” particularly in a setting that does not follow the typical rules of a typical church,” Roarty said.

But she’s fond of the projects she’s watching other students in that class do. “The things people have thought of to study through a religious studies lens is crazy cool. It’s not something I would have at the beginning of my four years thought of as, oh, this is religious studies.”

Socially, Roarty has spent time in two different friend groups throughout her four years, one rooted in friends she made her first and second year. Her other group moved back to Grinnell during the pandemic and has lived together since then — they now live at 1018 East Street.

Roarty also works at Burling Library and Kistle Science Library. As a first year, she worked in the Dining Hall, and has worked for the French department as a tutor and administrative assistant.

Roarty’s favorite place on campus is the tables on the first floor of Burling Library, that she has dubbed the “amoeba tables,” although she has heard them referred to as the “egg tables,” much to her distaste.

Neverland ran their spring show — Roarty’s final show — the first weekend of March. She said she was grateful just to be a player, and not to have to focus on being in charge.

“I felt a really nice sense of closure, but I also felt so connected to the cast, including younger members who I really had just met a few weeks earlier.”

Frisbee will run through the end of the semester, and she knows she’s leaving the group in good hands.

“I was blown away by these first and second years, who are better than me and all of our upper class. They’re going to be so good in the next three years.”

She said she’ll miss Grinnell, especially having her friends close, but she is sure they will be lifelong relationships. But she is grateful for the confidence Grinnell has given her.

“I’ve learned a lot about leadership, whatever that means,” said Roarty.

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