Under a brilliant blue sky and bright sun, the School celebrated its 103rd commencement with musical performances, awards, and speeches designed to inspire its graduates, who come from sixteen countries and eleven states. Also for the first time, eight graduates had completed the school’s Scholars’ Tracks programs, specializing in arts, STEM, and global studies.
Three students spoke to their classmates. Salutatorian Lydia Buckley, of Princeton, spoke of the small routines she would miss after leaving Hun, such as the early morning rush to classes, school dodgeball tournaments and karaoke contests, and playing field hockey.
“These are the small constants we have grown accustomed to, but it’s time to move on from here,” noted Ms. Buckley, an accomplished actress who heads to Cornell University in the fall. “It’s time to leave our safe haven. It’s uncomfortable, yet strangely exciting. It will take all your heart. It will take all your thought,” she said, quoting Adrienne Rich’s poem about new beginnings, Final Notations.
Student Speaker Aadil Mufti took the opportunity to talk about his favorite eraser as a metaphor for his journey.
“I remember very vividly how I got hold of this eraser,” he recalled. “It was the night before my first day of high school.” Finding it in a drawer, he became “captivated” with it. “I thought, ‘Wow, I just found this really cool eraser in my room, who would not want to be friends with me?’” he asked to laughter, noting he was stuck in a fourth-grade “definition of coolness.”
“When we think of erasers, we think of them as devices that allow us to forget our mistakes, devices that give us a second chance. But to me, this baby blue eraser… is a vast universe of memories,” said Mr. Mufti of Princeton. “At the end of the day, we are just like this eraser; full of mistakes, suffering, boredom, frustration, and sheer absurdity,” said the graduate, who heads to New York University this fall. “But just like this eraser, we are ready to absorb every moment of our lives and keep them in our bodies, hearts, and souls.”
Valedictorian Julia Salerno, said “my one message… is this: to have courage. The courage to make mistakes, and to feel that frustration, that disappointment, feel it, and give it the time it deserves, and then move on from it.”
“Have the courage to figure out what YOU want, not what your friends want, or your parents want,” said Ms. Salerno, of Yardley, Pennsylvania, while acknowledging that her own parents are right “pretty much all the time.
“Find what it is that makes you happiest, something you could do all day without getting tired of it, and then talk about it for hours. It may take a long time, but when you find it… you’ll know it and you’ll never go back,” said Ms. Salerno, who will play soccer and major in the sciences at Carnegie Mellon University in the fall.
Headmaster Jonathan Brougham said goodbye to the class by advising them to worry less, and enjoy life in the moment more. Quoting philosopher Epictetus, Mr. Brougham suggested students concentrate only on issues they can control, such as what is happening right now.
“Regrets about the past. Unresolvable worries about the future. Epictetus … had the self-discipline to push aside the afflictions of the past and live in the present. So can you! Banish those worries! You will be wonderfully relieved.”
After the ceremony, teachers and faculty formed a horseshoe behind Russell Hall and greeted students with embraces and handshakes one last time to wish them well.
Faculty Prize – Sophia Albanese
Valedictory Award – Julia Salerno
Salutatory Award – Lydia Buckley
John L. Kuschke Memorial Award – Lydia Buckley
John R. Scott Memorial Award – Patrick John Nally
Michelle Bonacci Marks ’89 Memorial Award – Julie Fassl
Robert Strianese ’70 Memorial Award – Frederick Hansard
James A. McFadden ’59 Memorial Award – Christopher Fake
Edwin “Jake” Jacobs Memorial Award – Grant Versfeld
Katherine Wright Gorrie ’98 Memorial Award – Natalie Davis
Headmaster’s Awards – Noor Al Busaidi, Christopher Bahr, Griffin Ferrara, Yooha Kim, Alexander Versfeld, Jr.