Baccalaureate, a ceremony with roots in 15th century Oxford, formally began the graduation festivities on the Thursday before the big day. In a warm and sunny quad on the US campus, music was played and speeches were spoken.
Cantilena, directed by Susan Nace, and a string ensemble, directed by Chris Florio, provided beautiful and thoughtful musical selections to set the tone. In her opening remarks, Jennifer Gargano, assistant head of school for academic affairs, told the junior class it was time to say goodbye to the seniors and prepare to accept their new leadership role. She reminded the audience of juniors, seniors, senior parents and faculty that this was a time when we are “celebrating each and every one of you… as individuals and as a class.”
Math teacher Anthony Silk, selected by the graduates to represent the faculty, delivered a talk he based on a popular NPR radio program, “This American Life.” His theme: The Road Not Taken. His time in the Navy encouraged him to learn how to find small things that can give one a quick lift or encouragement in hard times. His venture into the rat race of software engineering taught him that, “Our lives don’t have one correct route to the cheese…don’t make your life a race.” And he urged the seniors to think about the people who helped them. “None of us get anywhere without someone else,” he remarked, adding that history teacher John Near, a frequent and accomplished Baccalaureate speaker, has been an inspiration to him.
Graduating senior Daniel Kim had the honor of addressing his class as salutatorian, a word he says he looked up in the dictionary and found to mean the speaker who “salutes” the incoming senior class. He thus directed his remarks to the juniors, telling them that appearances don’t matter, it’s the attitude that counts; to follow one’s passion, saying “what you love is what you are”; and be thankful to those who have paved your way.
As seniors departed for more class activities and juniors left with the understanding of their new role, parents and faculty mingled and talked about the students they were sending off to the next phase of their lives.