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The Hun School Celebrates its 104th Commencement

The Hun School of Princeton graduated 146 students under sunny skies and a canopy of oak trees on June 8th. Sophia Davis began the ceremony with a powerful rendition of Miley Cyrus’ The Climb.

Headmaster Jonathan Brougham welcomed family, friends, and faculty. He began his remarks with a tribute to Hun School faculty.

“Pablo Picasso said the meaning of life is to find your gift, and the purpose of life is to give it away,” he said. “Our teachers and staff do this endlessly, and instill joy and inspiration that graduates will remember for a lifetime.” 

Valedictorian Daniel Hubert, of Princeton, who will go to Vanderbilt University, surprised his grandparents in the audience, who did not know he would be speaking.

“I would like to say to my grandparents: ‘Surprise!’” His grandmother, he said, had recently called him “the most mature of her five grandchildren,” noting his politeness and friendly demeanor. “She said ‘I can’t explain it, but it’s Hun. You just seem more aware of other people, and it is Hun.’

“Like my grandmother, I often struggle to find the words to capture Hun’s effect on people, as this “effect” is what I believe makes the school so special. However, after reflecting on my four years here, I think I have finally figured it out. Hun promotes a selfless, giving culture that encourages both students and faculty to support each member of our community. Because of this culture, Hun creates a unique academic environment for students to thrive.”

Salutatorian Amanda Morrison, of Skillman, New Jersey, who will participate in the prestigious Integrated Business and Engineering Program at Lehigh University, urged the group to “live in the moment” and to “look around you.”

“Your teachers and coaches are here. Their titles seem oversimplified. They were always with us, sometimes more than our own families ...nurturing us and kicking our butts when we needed it. They forced us to grow, sometimes against our wills, but always because they truly cared. Many of us have teachers and coaches who became mentors and friends. I know I’ve had many.

“During my freshman English class, I spent 40 hours writing my research paper. Insane, I know. Why, you ask would I ever spend a week of spring break writing a paper. First, it was because my teacher set pretty high expectations, but mostly it was because I was so in awe of my him that I wanted to impress him.” 

Commencement Speaker Ximena Iriarte Estrada was elected by this year’s class as the Student Speaker. In her speech, she marveled at her progression from crying from homesickness freshman year to crying, now, at leaving Hun. 

“It still surprises me that the little girl crying in her bed is the one standing before you presenting her graduation speech,” said Ximena, who is from Mexico and will attend Penn State in the fall. She said she had found a number of “families” here at Hun.

“We have a family in the dorm, a family in the classroom, a family on the athletic fields. The tears I cried on my first day of classes were very different than the tears I cried on my last,” she said. 

Chairman of the Board of Trustees Hugh Hurley, who is leaving the Board after nine years of leadership and service, said this, “Whatever you do with your lives, I encourage you all to work for peace and understanding . . . Make the world a better place through civil discourse, by listening not just speaking, and with dignity and respect toward all you encounter. You can and will make a difference. . .Be a positive force in this world, be a builder. And while texting your parents is nice, there is no replacement for the human voice, so please call them,” to which the parents in the audience cheered.  


Commencement Awards:

Distinguished Endowed Faculty Chair  

Dianne Somers


Faculty Prize

Michael John Alonzo

Swarthmore College


John L. Kuschke Memorial Award 

Martin Caforio 

University of St. Andrews


John R. Scott Memorial Award 

Brett James Renna 

Franklin & Marshall College


Michelle Bonacci Marks ’89 Memorial Award

Kennedy Alexandria Debow 

Loyola University Maryland


Robert Strianese ’70 Memorial Award 

Laura Ann McBryan 

University of Notre Dame


James A. McFadden ’59 Memorial Award 

Julia Lea Revock 

Villanova University


Edwin “Jake” Jacobs Memorial Award 

Ryan Peter Torres 

Pennsylvania State University 


Katherine Wright Gorrie ’98 Memorial Award 

Marissa Catherine Clover 

The University of Arizona


Headmaster’s Award

Bianca Marisa Cifelli, Babson College

Madeline Claire Petty, Davidson College

Nicholas Patrick Reilly, University of Notre Dame

Wenqin Zhao, Babson College