“On the whole, you see before you a profoundly interesting, impressive and easy to like collection of individuals,” said Head of School Steve Lisk in his introduction. “The value they have placed together on appreciation of difference in one another is, in my view, among their real strengths. This quality, I confess, gives us reason for hope in our future as a people, as a country and as a world.”
The class of 2018 “won acceptances to 83 different colleges and universities [and] … will scatter to 39 separate campuses across the United States and Canada,” Lisk continued. “I know I speak on behalf of the faculty and staff here who know you so well when I say: We are big on your future.”
Chosen by her peers to give the class address, Clare J. delivered a delightfully droll and self-aware monologue.
“If you’re looking for a commencement speech full of clichés, you’re going to be disappointed today,” Clare began. “At no point do I plan on telling you that your world is an oyster, or any other kind of shellfish. I will not say, “We made it!” and I definitely won’t say “It’s called commencement for a reason.” I also won’t quote “Oh, The Places You’ll Go,” but that’s only because Dr. Seuss’ copyright people are vultures and I’m 100 percent sure there’s one of them in the audience with us today.”
She gave her class three nuggets of wisdom: Take your work seriously, take others and their feelings seriously, and don’t take yourself too seriously. To this last point, she tacked on an addendum: Do your best to be humble.
“I’m the perfect person to give this advice because I am amazing at being humble. Not only that, I’m smart, I’m beautiful, I’m funny. … If any of you guys need advice on how to be humble, come talk to me in the lobby after the ceremony. I’m really easy to talk to,” Jackson said with impeccable comic dryness to peals of audience laughter.
The graduating class also chose mathematics department chair Mary Turner to give the faculty address, both an honor and a challenge, but one to which Turner rose with poise and eloquence.
“As you move through life, you will cross paths with many new people, new ideas, new opportunities. It’s always imperative that you remember the lessons of arithmetic: You must determine if these things are adding to or subtracting from your quality of life. Treasure those that add, and don’t be afraid to dismiss the ones that subtract,” Turner said.
“In turn, your impact on the lives of others is equally important. Be a force for good. Multiply your good fortune. … Be a multiplier, not a divider.
“Throughout life,” she continued, “I can guarantee that you’re going to face some problems — challenges — the word problems of life. Some will be small and some will be immense. Everyday we can allow ourselves to be swallowed by the enormity of it all — grades, jobs, money, success — or we can remember the lessons we learned in math. Focus on what’s important, put aside what is not, forgive our mistakes, face life head on and persist.”
Senior class co-presidents Dory B. and Lauren M. delivered a speech titled “What Makes Us the Class of 2018?” The pair told their peers, “You have been role models, comic relief … and you have made a difference. … Every time you took charge of an issue, someone younger was watching.” They closed on a note of gratitude, observing that, “The people in this room love us.”
While the day belonged to the students, they didn’t have the market cornered on prizes and recognition. Board of Trustee Chair Bernadette Gardner presented The Trustee Emeritus Award to Vicki Zuckerman, who “has served on the Country Day board for the maximum 12 years allowed in the bylaws. I say maximum because we would keep her for more if we could,” Gardner said.
Gardner then saluted Director of Admission and her predecessor on the board, Sandi Abraham. She is “Country Day’s own Renaissance woman,” Gardner proclaimed, before presenting her with the Life Trustee Award and leading the seniors in a hearty chorus of “Happy birthday” for the mother of three lifers.
Fourth-grade teacher Crystal Meashey was awarded the Marcia L. Hubbard ’53 Endowed Faculty Chair, an honor previously held by the man who presented it: Assistant Head of School Todd Trout. In introducing the winner, Trout described Meashey as a versatile and dedicated teacher who has — and continues to — enrich the Lower School.
Diane Wilikofsky’s invocation and Genevieve Munson’s benediction echoed similar philosophical sentiments.
“Be courageous and compassionate as you create new and indelible marks on the wide world. We hope you fondly remember your LCDS community as we will remember you,” Wilikofsky said, invoking a maxim of Henri Matisse.
Munson mined her wisdom from the rich depths of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Quoting the Transcendentalist, Munson said, “The purpose of life is not to be happy … [but] It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate … [in order] to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
“Class of 2018, I hope that you find work that is real, that feeds your sense of purpose, that continuously pushes you to be honorable and compassionate, and that makes a difference — wherever you go,” Munson said.
The Trustee Prize: Awarded to the senior with the highest cumulative grade point average. Winner: Matt L.
Ruth S. Hostetter Award: This award is presented by the Alumni Council in the memory of a Shippen School graduate from the class of 1931. It recognizes a senior who, over an extended period of time, has worked selflessly and enthusiastically to enhance the school community. Winner: Katie W.
Ann Musselman Award: Given in honor of Ann Musselman, an LCDS English and history teacher who enriched the lives students and colleagues for 30 years, this award is given to the student who best exemplifies personal qualities Ann cherished and modeled for others: enthusiastic curiosity; the courage to take intellectual risks; joy in a lifetime of learning; and a desire to pack the most living possible into each one of life’s “precious minutes.” Winner: Emma S.
Faculty Award: Given to a student who embodies of what the faculty most respect in a scholar and a person, someone who has a true love of learning, contributes to the intellectual life of the school and is a model citizen. Winner: Sam D.
Head of School Award: Presented by the Head of School, recognizing the seniors who are most deserving of special recognition for having qualities such as leadership, school spirit, persistence and civic virtue. Winners: Lauren M. and Cristian T.