May 17 was a busy day for the 190 members of the Class of 2017, who attended the Alumni Induction Lunch at Nichols Hall, where they officially became Harker alumni and presented this year’s senior gift: a $2,000 donation to Harker’s advancement department. History teacher Damon Halback spoke at the event, wishing the departing seniors well in the coming years.
Several graduating seniors had their names inscribed on bricks that were later placed into the Senior Walk at Graduates’ Grove during this year’s Brick Ceremony, where math teacher Troy Thiele offered some kind and inspiring parting words to the soon-to-be graduates.
That afternoon, the seniors gathered with the juniors at the upper school campus quad for the baccalaureate ceremony, held each year to wish the seniors well in their future endeavors and welcome the juniors into their new roles as seniors. Economics teacher Sam Lepler was chosen by the students to be this year’s faculty baccalaureate speaker and senior Aditya Dhar also shared some parting words of wisdom with his classmates and the seniors-to-be. As a special surprise, former Harker teacher Ben Spencer-Cooke appeared to offer congratulations to the graduates.
The seniors who entered Harker as kindergartners then headed to the lower school campus to celebrate their time as Harker students at a very special Lifers Dinner, fittingly held at the campus where their Harker careers began.
The Class of 2017 arrived at the Mountain Winery on May 18 for an afternoon of celebration and bittersweet farewells. Valedictorian Kai Ang used his time at the podium to remind his classmates that “we are indebted to all who stood behind us, seen and unseen.” Keynote speaker Chris Malachowsky, co-founder of graphics technology company Nvidia, offered students advice based on three points: investment in oneself, confidence and responsibility. Finally, departing Head of School Chris Nikoloff gave his final graduation speech before exiting to serve as headmaster of The American School in Switzerland. Invoking Voltaire’s observation that “life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats,” Nikoloff advised the audience to “find joy no matter where you are, to pay attention to those in the lifeboat next to you, to see that your circumstances do not necessarily dictate your attitude about those circumstances.”