Red was the color of the day at The Hun School’s 105th Commencement. From the sea of scarlet caps and gowns to the shoes, dresses, ties, and purses, the crowd gathered on the Mall donned their school spirit to celebrate and honor the achievements of the one-hundred-thirty-three members of the Class of 2019.
This year’s ceremony was marked by a number of “firsts.” Maximilian Spieler ’19 entertained the crowd with a lively debut of his original song, “Princeton Boogie.” Another first celebrated this year: a tie for Salutatorian. Joseph Licitra ’19, who will attend Georgetown University, and Gillian Schadrack ’19, who will attend Princeton University, were both awarded the Paul R. Chesebro H’14 Salutatory Awards and spoke at the ceremony.
Headmaster Jonathan Brougham, who celebrates his tenth year with the School, encouraged the graduates to find what makes them truly happy. “What things give you a sense of joy and satisfaction?” He shared the concept of ikigai, a philosophy attributed to the residents of Okinawa who happen to be the world’s longest-living. “It basically translates to ‘What makes you want to get up in the morning?’” Mr. Brougham then shared a personal story and offered himself as an example of what not to do. He chose to practice law, initially, not out of passion, but because it seemed like the right thing to do. Careful not to disparage the profession, he noted how the practice simply wasn’t suited to him.
Doing some soul-searching, Mr. Brougham wrote an essay about all the times in his life he remembered feeling great joy. Reflecting on his work at a summer camp and as a substitute teacher, he realized that what he truly loved is working with kids. So, he left the law for the classroom. “Almost from the beginning, I could feel the job gave me much more of what my soul craved,” he added.
Before welcoming the Salutatorians to the microphone, Mr. Brougham honored two faculty members who will retire this year: Kathy Quirk H ’14 and Mark Niederer. Mrs. Quirk has coached, taught, and served as an assistant athletic director for forty-six years at the School, while Mark Niederer has taught architecture, mechanical drawing, and woodworking for forty years.
Salutatorian Gigi Schadrack poked fun at herself, sharing her obsession with to-do lists and the battle against time before saying, “I’ve come to realize that this time is ours. Though we may not understand it or be able to control it, we can use it- we must. We must use the time we have to do something meaningful, whether that be engineering a new tool that benefits society or simply offering a smile and kind words to someone who needs it.” As she closed her speech, she encouraged her fellow graduates by adding, “Our lives past high school will be some of our wildest performances, filled with ups and downs. Who knows what surprises and bouts of spontaneity life will throw at us? Only time will tell.”
Joey Licitra peppered his speech with sports references, relating how the graduates now face a “new season with new challenges, goals, and a fresh start.” “Everyone starts at 0-0,” he said. “It’s up to you to put in the work and the time.” He also encouraged his fellow graduates to “find what winning a championship means in your life.”
The theme of preparation continued with Valedictorian Summer Goldstein ’19, who will attend Brown University in the fall and spoke about the importance of not being ready for everything. “I think the secret is that you’re not supposed to be—that’s the entire point of starting something.”
This year’s recipient of the highly coveted Faculty Prize was Myles Bostic, vice president of the senior class. In announcing the prize, Mr. Brougham spoke of Myles’s character, noting, “this award is presented to the senior who most exemplifies the characteristics of scholarship, integrity, reliability, leadership, and character we most desire in our students.” Myles will attend Howard University in the fall.
The Hun School’s Class of 2019 will attend colleges and universities in 26 states and three countries.